‘The pain is in my heart’: Saskatoon Muslim community trying to make sense of recent attacks

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WATCH: A Muslim man who is still recovering from his wounds after a stabbing Friday in Saskatoon says communication is the best cure to reduce anti-Muslim and hate attacks – Jun 26, 2021

A day after Muhammad Kashif was stabbed, he’s still trying to make sense of the attack.

He said he was out for an early morning walk Friday morning when he said one man stabbed him in the back several times and another cut his beard – a symbol of his Muslim faith.

He told Global News the physical pain he’s still suffering doesn’t compare to the emotional pain of someone cutting his beard.

Read more: Saskatoon man stabbed, has beard cut in alleged targeted attack

“That (physical) pain is nothing. The pain is in my heart,” he said.

It’s the latest in a string of recent attacks against Muslims.

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Earlier this week, a man in Edmonton allegedly grabbed a woman’s hijab, knocked her unconscious and threatened another with a knife.

On Friday, the Pakistan Canada Cultural Association of Saskatoon held a march to honour the victims of the attack in London, Ont., where four people were killed earlier this month.

Ali Ahmad is a coordinator with the association and he said that part of the focus of the march ended up being far more local.

He told Global News he was shocked to learn what happened to his friend.

“I was also confused,” Ahmad said, “as to why this happened in my hometown. This is what I consider a safe place… what I consider home.”

Ifran Chaudhry, a hate crime researcher, said attacks on Muslims have increased during the pandemic because less connection builds bigger echo chambers online.

“If your own social filter bubble amplifies that perspective and you don’t know any better, of course, you’re going to believe a certain demographic might be coming in and taking over and bringing in different laws from Canadian laws, all this ridiculous nonsense that people buy into,” he said, speaking over Zoom from Edmonton.

Read more: Edmonton rally demanding increased protection for Muslim women amidst latest attack

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He said most attacks against Muslims are verbal or done through graffiti. He suggested the recent spate of physical violence stems from the dangerous and erroneous beliefs about Muslim people cycling around in discussions.

He said a lot of bigoted language falls short of hate speech and therefore falls short of a threshold that could result in legal consequences. Chaudhry said social media platforms need to better regulate what users post — like they now do with COVID-19 information.

And he told Global News it’s crucial anyone witnessing an attack helps.

“It’s those moments offline that people need to collectively be there. Even if you don’t say anything, you just being there, stepping in front of the other person,” he said.

Ahmad said the association is working to create awareness and to educate people about Islam.

He said he knows the vast majority of people oppose violence and bigotry.

“We have to see the fact that we have 10 people to support us and there’s just one attacker, so it’s 10 against one.”

“Everyone has… a responsibility (to ask) how do we make this country live together,” Kashif said.

Saskatoon police are investigating the attack.

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With files from Thomas Piller, Jacquelyn LeBel, Andrew Graham and Slav Kornik.

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