In the wake of another attack against Muslim women in the Edmonton area, a rally has been organized for Friday evening.
Several organizations, including Edmonton Council of Muslim Communities and the Al Rashid Mosque, have organized the event at Sir Winston Churchill Square at 7 p.m.
Al Rashid Mosque communications director Noor Al-Henedy said the rally is intended to put pressure on government to do more to stop these hate-motivated attacks from continuing to occur as frustration grows that not enough is being done.
“Everybody’s condemning it. We’re talking about it in the news and we get the exact same phone calls from people who support us, but nothing in reality is getting done,” Al-Henedy said.
“Nobody is taking a stand and saying, ‘Enough is enough. It’s time to get to work. Let’s get together as a city government, a provincial government, a federal government. Let’s turn this around.'”
RCMP said two women were walking along a pathway near Alderwood Park in St. Albert at around 12:35 p.m. Wednesday when a man began yelling racial remarks at them.
The man, who was wearing a mask, “grabbed one female by the hijab and pushed her to the ground, knocking her unconscious,” RCMP said.
“The male then pulled out a knife, knocked the second female to the ground, and held her down with the knife against her throat while he continued to threaten the females with racial slurs.”
RCMP said the man ran away and officers, along with the RCMP Police Dog Services, couldn’t find him after searching the area.
The first woman who was attacked regained consciousness, RCMP said, and was taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The other woman sustained minor injuries but was not taken to hospital.
“Alberta RCMP work collaboratively with other policing agencies, regardless of jurisdiction as we stand together against hate and extremism,” said Staff Sgt. Tony Dickens.
Earlier this month, Premier Jason Kenney announced a program intended to protect vulnerable residents from hate crimes.
The Alberta Security Infrastructure Program provides grants to religious and ethnic organizations that are at risk of being targeted by hate-inspired violence or vandalism. This includes places of worship, temples, synagogues, gurdwaras, community centres such as Indigenous friendship centres, ceremonial facilities and monuments.
Al-Henedy said the program is a positive step, but it does not address the issue of Muslim women being attacked.
“The problem is not at the mosque, the problem is out there on the street at a public park or an LRT station. That’s where we spend our day-to-day. I come to work here; I leave work and I go to Walmart and I go to Costco and I go to the mall. That’s where the problem is happening,” she said.
“We need an action plan that’s going to be realistic, that’s going to work on the ground, that’s going to change the narrative of this story, turn it around.”
Al-Henedy said organizers of Friday evening’s rally are hoping for a big crowd and they welcome everyone.
“We need to shake things up. We need to put pressure on the people who are in charge to move forward and turn this around,” she said.
Edmonton has seen a number of attacks on Muslim women in recent months.
City police say two women wearing hijabs were sitting in a mall parking lot in December when a stranger shattered a window and assaulted the passenger as she tried to flee and then assaulted the second woman when she tried to help. A man faces charges of assault and mischief in that case.
In March, a man was charged after three allegedly hate-motivated attacks on women in Edmonton.
In the first, police said the Black victim was followed inside a convenience store on Jan. 18 and allegedly assaulted.
The second and third attacks took place on the same day in early February. One woman was wearing a hijab and the other wore a burqa.
Police said the suspect in Wednesday’s attack in St. Albert would have been walking in the Alderwood Park area that day and is described as about six feet tall, average build and broad shoulders, about 50 years old, with short light-coloured hair and light-coloured eyes. He was wearing dark blue jeans, a navy shirt and a red and white bandana with graffiti lettering.
— With files from Emily Mertz, Global News