Muslim convert attacked while wearing niqab in Toronto

Sean Fine, Justice Writer | Globe and Mail
October 4, 2015

Her roots in Canada stretch back through her francophone mother to the 1600s. Last week, wearing her Islamic face veil – the niqab, which has become a central issue in the federal election – she says she was trying to enter Shoppers Drug Mart at Toronto’s Fairview Mall when a man carrying a liquor-store bag blocked her path and then drove his elbow hard into her shoulder, in front of her two daughters, ages nine and four.

“It hurt, yo,” Safira Merriman, 30, said in a Facebook post describing the incident.

The identity issue playing out in election debates and in courtrooms is now being felt in the streets, shopping malls and on social media, as disparaging remarks and even outright assaults draw attention to a charged political environment.

“On social media, already we’ve seen a huge spike of what appears to be anti-Muslim sentiment being expressed,” said Amira Elghawaby, a spokeswoman for the National Council of Canadian Muslims in Ottawa. She mentioned a Montreal website that posted a 15-minute montage of “people spewing anti-Muslim” feeling.

“This issue around the niqab has put Islam and Muslims in an extremely negative light. The entire community has been tarred with this brush of not wanting to join the Canadian family.”

While most Canadians are respectful, she added, the identity issue is “being used as a political football, and that has real ramifications for people’s sense of belonging and safety.”

Read full article.