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Edmonton police investigate possible hate crime on Whyte Avenue

Click to play video: 'Edmonton police investigating Islamophobic exchange on Whyte Avenue'
Edmonton police investigating Islamophobic exchange on Whyte Avenue
WATCH: Edmonton police are investigating an alleged hate crime on Whyte Avenue, in which two Muslim men talking about their faith on the street were approached by another man who said hateful things and poured his drink on their Quran. Slav Kornik reports. – May 17, 2023

Edmonton police are investigating an alleged hate crime after video of the incident has circulated online.

On May 10, 2023, two men were on Whyte Avenue preaching about the Muslim faith when a third individual approached.

In the video of the encounter, the individual approaches the two men and can be heard saying, “Why do you guys think anybody wants to hear about your f—ing prophet?”

READ MORE: Edmonton man charged after death threat made towards 2 women on LRT

The man then pours a drink out of a can he’s holding onto a table that allegedly had the Quran on it and walks away. One of the men who was targeted asked the individual, “Does that make you happy?”

“I just wish these type of incidents do not occur. People should not in any way feel unsafe or feel that they’re being targeted for what they believe,” National Council of Canadian Muslims advocacy officer Said Omar said.

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The Edmonton police hate crime and violent extremism unit is investigating. Police have spoken to the two men targeted in the incident, as has Omar.

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“I would imagine if this were to happen to me I would sincerely be worried for my safety and think twice about expressing my faith or belief outwardly.”

READ MORE: City of Edmonton introduces tool to identify and report hate symbols

Omar is not surprised that an incident like this occurred. He believes hate crimes are on the rise and Statistics Canada numbers back up his claim. The agency’s report shows police-reported hate crime in Edmonton increased every year between 2017 and 2021.

“Often times from community members, I hear other incidents that have occurred that haven’t had the media attention, and, unfortunately, the issue these types of incidents shouldn’t occur,” Omar said.

Also, the Organization for the Prevention of Violence (OPV) performed a government-funded study that found more than one third of Albertans reported experiencing a hate crime in the past three years.

The report also indicated visible minorities  are far more likely to be subjected to hate, the study found.

READ MORE: Senate public hearings on Islamophobia hears testimony from Muslims in Edmonton

Omar believes communities that are most often the targets of hate crime should be heard from by policy makers in order for change to occur.

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“I believe that local communities often have the most nuanced graphs of the issues they face in relation to Islamophobia and other forms of hate,” Omar said.

“Communities who face these problems often have the most productive ideas on how to address and resolve them.”

Police said they have no other information about the encounter at this time.

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