A man is facing charges after an alleged attack on a Muslim woman near a mosque in Edmonton, a city that has seen several similar assaults in the last few years.
Edmonton police say that Jeffrey Hill, 34, has been charged with mischief under $5,000 and uttering threats.
“Investigators have also recommended that Section 718.2 of the Criminal Code of Canada be applied in this case, allowing the courts to consider increased sentencing when there is evidence the offence was motivated by hatred,” police said in an email Tuesday.
“(The Edmonton Police Service) continues to provide supports to the family through its crime and trauma-informed support services.”
The attacked happened at the Al Ameen Mosque.
In a statement, the National Council of Canadian Muslims said it is deeply troubled by the attack, adding that “the rising number of Islamophobic attacks in Alberta are alarming.”
Other attacks in Edmonton over the past two years include a vicious assault on a mother and daughter in a mall parking lot, an encounter in which a man threatened to tear off a woman’s burqa and kill her, and an attack by a masked man wielding a knife at two sisters in their 20s wearing hijabs.
The organization provided more details on the Jan. 1 attack, saying a man spat on a Muslim woman’s car window, punched it several times, uttered threats and damaged mosque property before returning to the scene with a shovel.
It allegedly happened while the woman’s children were inside the car, the organization said.
“(The National Council of Canadian Muslims) has supported numerous victims in Alberta since last December, and we are continuing to call on the Alberta government and different municipalities across the province to take urgent and immediate action,” Said Omar, an Alberta advocacy officer for the organization, said in the statement.
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“We need to see the province step up alongside the city and create a bipartisan provincial-municipal action plan. Everyone has the right to feel safe in public spaces, regardless of their background.”
The organization said it will continue to monitor the investigation and has been in touch with Edmonton police.
Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi took to Twitter Wednesday to say he is deeply saddened to hear of another attack on a Muslim woman in our city.
“No one should ever be made to feel unsafe because of the colour of their skin, their religion or any other reason,” Sohi said.
“Every Edmontonian deserves to feel safe in our city.”
During his swearing-in speech in October, Sohi noted the large number of assaults, particularly against Muslim women and the city’s Asian community.
“It is important to me, and to this council, that we build… a city where everyone is able to… walk free of harassment, free of racism,” Sohi, who is Edmonton’s first mayor of colour, said at the time.
During the new council’s inaugural meeting, Sohi asked administration to work with racialized communities on an anti-racism strategy.
“Addressing hate-based violence is a top priority for Edmonton city council.”