Barâa Arar remembers her first conflict with Islamophobia in Canada.
A transit driver in Kamloops, B.C., advised Arar, 11 on the time, and her grandmother they could not trip the bus until she eliminated her hijab.
“I did not perceive it on the time,” mentioned Arar, who had solely began sporting the scarf to be extra like her mom.
“I used to be in shock. We did not know what to do.”
That shock has dissipated over time as Arar, now 24 and residing in Ottawa, confronted repeated harassment by strangers attributable to being visibly Muslim. Concern has remained.
“[Monday] was the primary day shortly that I felt afraid to go outdoors sporting a hijab,” mentioned Arar.
Final Sunday, 4 members of a London household — Salman Afzaal, 46; Madiha Salman, 44; Talat Afzaal, 74; and Yumna Afzaal, 15 — died after they have been struck by a truck driver. Fayez Afzaal, 9, suffered severe accidents, however survived.
Sidewalk turns into unsafe
This week, tales of concern and grief have been shared amongst Muslim girls in Ottawa.
“The sidewalk [becomes] a spot the place you could be a sufferer of violence due to what you are sporting, since you are Muslim,” mentioned Arar.
Ottawa resident Sabeen Awan was additionally 11 when she says she was strolling in Niagara Falls along with her household as individuals in a automobile hurled Ping-Pong balls at them whereas driving by, concurrently shouting expletives.
Since then, Awan has turn into hyper-aware each time a car approaches her.
“You are strolling down the road and a automobile comes and instinctively, I transfer even additional over [on the sidewalk],” mentioned Awan, now 31.
“I type of transfer my household over with out saying something, however figuring out that I am doing it simply because I do not know what would possibly occur.”
We reside in concern. It is actual concern, and [I] really feel like we’re not taken critically.– Sahada Alolo, Ottawa Muslim Ladies’s Affiliation
Awan mentioned the incident in London has given her greater than the standard pause.
“Is it simpler if I can simply mix in? I’ve [had] that thought,” mentioned Awan. “There’s all the time that little concern in the back of your head. What if someone who sees me [wearing a hijab], decides one thing triggers them about seeing it, and creates a response that I am not anticipating.”
The hijab carries extra significance than ever earlier than, Awan says, and he or she refuses to collapse to the concern.
“I’ve religion that I am doing one thing that I consider in and I can stand with that,” she mentioned.
Issues must be taken critically
Sahada Alolo, president of the Ottawa Muslim Ladies’s Affiliation, says she has seen a disturbing pattern lately after high-profile hate crimes, such because the 2017 Quebec Metropolis mosque taking pictures.
“We reside in concern. It is actual concern, and [I] really feel like we’re not taken critically,” mentioned Alolo.
This week, extra Muslim girls have reached out to the her involved about leaving their properties whereas wearing conventional clothes that might mark them as Muslim, resembling a shalwar kameez, hijab or niqab.
“It is nearly like we’re speaking about an invisible risk till one thing occurs,” mentioned Alolo, who additionally chairs the Ottawa Police Group Council.
In an interview with Robyn Bresnahan, host of CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning, Alolo talked about previous cases when girls tried to report hate crimes to police, solely to be advised they have been “fortunate” to not have been harm.
Ottawa police say officers have stepped up patrols round native mosques within the wake of the assault in London and members met with the Ottawa Muslim Ladies’s Affiliation earlier this week, the place they inspired girls to come back ahead and share their experiences.
Alolo needs police to be extra proactive to guard Muslim residents, particularly girls.
“Whenever you really feel focused and also you report it to the police, over time we have felt ignored. We felt that our experiences should not taken critically,” she advised Bresnahan.
“As Muslims we do not have wherever to show to. Our experiences should not taken critically. The harm is actual.”
Author: ” — www.cbc.ca ”