Muslim group reports spike in harassment and assault cases
Stories of physical and verbal assault aimed at women wearing Muslim headscarves have skyrocketed in the past month, says the Muslim Council of Montreal.
Salam Elmenyawi says his umbrella organization used to receive two or three complaints a month, but that has shot-up to about a dozen incidents in a single week.
"We did not have this kind of reports at all until the Journal de Montreal story (the leak on the charter of values) came out," says the president of a group that represents about 40 mosques and community centres in the Montreal area.
Over the weekend, a Muslim family in Quebec city reported being attacked and spit on at a local mall.
Abusive language turns physical
Most cases involve women being sworn at, becoming the subject of racial slurs, or being told to go back to their country.
But, Elmenyawi says one woman was the target of a physical assault. "Somebody tried to actually pull her hijab off, and then insulted her with racial slurs," he says.
The president of the organization says victims are also having trouble getting their cases taken up by the police.
He's asking anyone who's been turned away by police to document the incident, note the name and badge number of the police officer, and report the incident to the Muslim Council.
However, Elmenyawi says the Muslim community is also seeing an outpouring of support since the Parti Quebecois officially unveiled its charter.
He says about two dozen women have contacted his organization, asking if they could have a hijab to wear in solidarity.