Hate-motivated attacks against Muslim women in Edmonton need to stop

As a community, we must come together to ensure Muslim women are safe in our city

There has been a rise in hate-motivated attacks against Muslim women in Alberta and they need to stop.

It’s not fair that I don’t get to feel safe on the LRT or on a walk. It’s not fair that my friend has to decide whether or not to spend $40 on an Uber ride instead of using public transit. It’s not fair that many of my friends decide to wear a hat on a bike ride instead of their hijab because: what if someone attacks you.

I chose to wear a hijab and because I — like many other Muslim women — made that decision doesn’t mean I don’t have every right to safety. A right to not be attacked by strangers in the street who may threaten you, physically assault you, or pull off your scarf. 

Edmonton needs to do better to ensure that these hate crimes against Muslim women come to end. Canada needs to do better to ensure the safety of Muslim women. Empty promises and words of sympathy are not enough. Real change needs to take place.

These attacks have been occurring for months with a particular target on Black Muslim women. In December, two Black Muslim women, a mother and daughter, were attacked in a parking lot inside their car. A man punched through their passenger window, spewed racial obscenities and threw both women onto the ground. In June, another Somali-Canadian woman was attacked by an unknown man while on a walk in the evening.

Hate motivated attacks against visibly Muslim women have become more and more common in Alberta. On Wednesday June 23, two Muslim sisters were attacked by a man wielding a knife while on a walk in St. Albert. The attacker ran away after threatening and holding a knife to one of the girls throats. He has not been identified yet and police are still searching.

Tragically, there are too many women that have suffered these attacks to include all the cases, which is horrifying. Something must be done. Change needs to happen and quickly too before more people are hurt. 

On June 25, an anti-hate rally in support of Muslim women took place at Winston Churchill Square with hundreds of people showing their support for effective change. These Islamaphobic attacks have become too frequent. The safety of Muslim women in Alberta is being compromised and something needs to be done or tragic hate fuelled attacks will only become more common. 

These nameless unidentified attackers need to be held accountable for their atrocious actions and more needs to be done to ensure that these attacks don’t happen in the first place. 

The provincial government has begun taking some initial steps. At a press conference on June 11, Premier Jason Kenny announced the launch of The Alberta Security Infrastructure Program, a program which will provide grants to religious and ethnic organizations that are at risk of being targeted for hate crimes. The funding can be used for a variety of things, including security improvement. 

The province’s justice minister also announced that they will be creating a Hate Crime Coordination Unit to strengthen investigations and prosecutions of hate-motivated violence . This unit has not yet been set up and more information it still coming out.

This is a good start in creating long-lasting change and, alongside further action, should hopefully help prevent these attacks from occurring in the future.

Overall, it’s important we take as many steps as possible to ensure that our communities are no longer the victims of these horrendous attacks. Muslim women should not have to be in a constant state of fear when leaving their homes because feeling safe isn’t a luxury that we should have to demand.

Malaika Arif

Malaika Arif is in her third-year of a commerce degree in human resources and previously served as a Deputy Opinion Editor for The Gateway in Summer 2021. In her spare time she likes to read and collect an endless amount of novels, go on long walks, binge Netflix shows, and attempt to focus on writing.

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