Is Islamophobia on the rise in Canada as well in the wake of the racist Islamophobic rhetoric of Donald Trump south of the border? The June 20 assault by an ugly woman on a hijabi sister at a London, ON supermarket definitely gives cause for concern. The assailant has been charged but not with hate crime; only assault. From what has transpired, it definitely appears to be a hate crime.
Wednesday, June 22, 2016, 16:38 DST
Police in London, ON, have charged a suspect with assaulting a hijabi Muslim woman in a supermarket on Monday June 20. The38-year-old assailant spat on, punched several times, and had her hair and hijab pulled off of a Muslim woman who was at the store with her four-month old baby.
The ugly woman first started shouting obscenities at the Muslim woman for no apparent reason before assaulting her. The 38-year-old assailant’s photo has appeared in the media (see attached photo). After appealing to the public the woman was found and has now been charged although the police have not released her name.The Muslim sister was at the Superking Supermarket at 785 Wonderland Rd. S. at about 5 pm Monday when the ugly woman started yelling at her. The victim did not know the assailant.
Not content with verbal abuse, the ugly woman then spat at the Muslimah, punched her several times and pulled her hijab in full view of the public. The assailant then hurried left the store.
"We don't have a motive for the assault right now," London Police Service spokeswoman Sandasha Bough said. "We don't have any information that this is a hate motivated offence. In what you're seeing and what you're hearing and what was provided through social media Tuesday [June 21] it would lead people to believe that. But right now
we're looking at it as an assault."
It is strange that the police would not say it is a hate crime. What was the motive for the assault? Did the Muslim sister do anything wrong other than wearing a hijab that is her right under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms? Why would a total stranger attack her and pull her hijab?
And when does an assault become a hate crime? There is unfortunately a pattern to the police attitude across Canada not taking assaults on Muslim men and women seriously. Hate crime charges are far more serious.
At the Quds Day rally in July 2014, for instance, a Muslim woman and man that were left behind from the main rally were assaulted by Jewish Defence League (JDL) thugs. The man was seriously wounded after being punched and kicked. The assault was captured by another person on his cell phone camera and the police were able to identify the assailants. Again, they were only charged with assault, not hate crime!
In the case of the London, ON assault on the Muslim woman, the police said their department's street gang unit will review the investigation once it has been completed. It will determine if the assault has elements of hate or bias, which could be used during sentencing, if charges are laid and the matter ends up in court.
The police spokesperson, Ms Bough said: "We're asking anybody who saw or heard anything to let us know." She went on: "We're really, really hoping that the public can help. We've spoken to witnesses, but we're still looking for more."
The suspect was located after tips were called in to Crime Stoppers and London police headquarters.
While hate crimes are not as widespread in Canada as they are in the US, the trend is disturbing both because racists and bigots think they can act with impunity and the police’s reluctance to charge them with hate crimes.
It is absolutely certain that if a Jewish woman or man were assaulted, it would be immediately branded a hate crime. In the case of Muslim victims, a different standard seems to apply.
London, ON has witnessed a number of such incidents in recent years. There is a group of Islamophobes in th city including some Christian clergy that spout venom against Muslims. Further, Donald Trump’s racist rhetoric has also fuelled hate against Muslims in North America.
Canadian politicians cannot be absolved of responsibility either. The Harper regime that was soundly defeated at the polls last October did much to spread hatred against Muslims. He never missed an opportunity to denigrate Muslims. One of his ministers, Jason Kenney went a step further denouncing the Muslims’ “barbaric cultural practices”. Kenney who is from the province of Alberta, tried to capitalize on the inherent racism of some Canadians but mercifully, the majority rejected the Conservatives hate-filled rhetoric.
The recent attack in London, ON gives cause for concern. If the police do not treat it as a hate crime, it would mean they are indirectly complicit in such crimes. That would be a very troubling development.