A Canadian Muslim woman has been knocked unconscious after being attacked by a knife-wielding man shouting racial slurs in the Edmonton suburb of St. Albert in the Western province of Alberta, local police say.
AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA): A Canadian Muslim woman has been knocked unconscious after being attacked by a knife-wielding man shouting racial slurs in the Edmonton suburb of St. Albert in the Western province of Alberta, local police say.
St. Albert’s Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) announced on Thursday that two Muslim sisters wearing hijab – a scarf-like headdress commonly worn by practicing female Muslims – were attacked Wednesday afternoon while walking on a pathway bordering Edmonton near Alderwood Park, local press outlets reported.
St. Albert is a city of about 65,000 situated just 12 kilometers from the major city of Edmonton.
Police investigators, who believe the attack was motivated by hatred toward Muslims, are seeking the public’s help to track down the suspect who fled the scene and is described as a near 50-year-old white man, six feet tall and wearing dark jeans, a navy shirt and a red and white bandana covering his face.
According to the reports, one sister was grabbed by her hijab and thrown to the ground and knocked unconscious. The other sister was also struck to the ground and a knife was held at her throat while the suspect continued to scream racial slurs before running away.
One of the sisters was taken to hospital and both sustained non-life-threatening injuries. The police said they called in a dog search team to track down the suspect, but he remains at large.
The Edmonton area has been the scene of several hate-motivated attacks this year, including one where a woman in her 50s was out for a walk when she was grabbed from behind and thrown to the pavement, according to local news reports, adding that also in March, a man was charged after uttering slurs against a teenager wearing a hijab.
The latest anti-Muslim incident came nearly two weeks after another white man in the eastern Ontario city of London plowed his pickup truck into a Muslim family of five, killing four of them and seriously injuring the other in a deliberate attack that targeted the victims because they looked Muslim.
“This was an act of mass murder perpetuated against Muslims,” London Mayor Ed Holder said. “It was rooted in unspeakable hatred. The magnitude of such hatred can make one question who we were as a city.”
The parent of the latest victims – identified as Izdahar Gaib – was cited in local reports as saying that her daughters, who are in their 20s, were the ones attacked but they did not wish to be named.
“My daughters are traumatized and do not feel safe whatsoever to step foot outside again and have even begged me not to go out either due to the fear that was planted in them,” Gaib said in a text message cited by Edmonton Journal.
The local daily cited REACH Edmonton -- a community safety group – as confirming that the two sisters “work for or volunteer with the organization.”
“These young women have dedicated their time and energy to creating a more equitable city for all Edmontonians, by working in the community on issues including anti-racism and civil rights,” said REACH project manager Helen Rusich in an email message quoted in the report, noting that the family had recently moved to Edmonton from Quebec.
Rusich revealed that the family was harassed online after speaking publicly about a similar attack a year ago.
“We obviously condemn these actions and our hearts are with this family as they navigate yet another traumatizing experience like this,” she added. “As Edmontonians, we need to do some soul searching and think about why these kinds of things keep happening in our city. We don’t want to believe that this is who we are as a city, and yet these attacks continue to happen.”
"Our Muslim neighbors, friends and family deserve to feel safe and welcome in their communities," said St. Albert Mayor Cathy Heron. "I'm heartbroken that many of them are not feeling safe right now."
Edmonton city police have filed charges in seven more hate-motivated assaults on Black and Muslim Edmontonians since December 2020.
The development also came amid reports that hundreds of unmarked graves – many believe to be of children – have been discovered at the site of yet another church-run residential school in Canada, highlighting the country’s grave human rights abuses against its indigenous people.
The graves are located near the former Marieval Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan, said the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous First Nations (FSIN), which represents 74 nations in the province, in a press release on Wednesday.
The federation did not give a specific number but said, “The number of unmarked graves will be the most significantly substantial to date in Canada.”
The latest discovery came a month after a mass grave containing the remains of 215 children was found at the Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia, which reopened old wounds among the indigenous population in Canada.
At the time, experts warned that the discovery was likely only the beginning.
According to a source with knowledge of the discovery, the total number of graves found near Marieval is expected to be over three times higher than the 215 discovered recently in Kamloops.