In an email to Muslim community members, Staff-Sgt David Zackrias urged the reporting of all forms of abuse
Ottawa city Police has appealed to the Muslim community to come forward and report all complaints after a series of incidents against Muslim women have come to light.
In an email to the Muslim community members, Sergeant David Zackrias urged the reporting of all forms of abuse.
“In recent days, female members of Ottawa’s Muslim community have voiced concerns about safety, following incidents of verbal abuse towards them — by strangers,” Zackrias stated, adding that ”If these types of incidents are not reported, little can be done to help other members of the community from also being victimised.”
Read: Canada court lets women wear veil for citizenship oath
The communication comes during an intense and conflict-ridden election campaign debate over the the Muslim women’s niqab.
While conservative Stephen Harper and Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe expressed aversion to the niqab during the election campaign, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, however, backed the right of women to wear what they want – a stance that according to the polls, has cost him support in Quebec. Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau also backs a women’s right to choose.
Zackrias, who works in the diversity and race relations division of the police service, said in an interview that police have received six reports of problems in the last few weeks.
“There’s racial slurs, profanity,” Zackrias said. “We’re letting the community know if there are any sort of threats or intimidation or abuse they should be reporting.”
Although, Toronto police are not aware of any similar incidents in their city, Muslims across Canada have complained about problems in recent weeks.
Recently, in an appaling incident, a pair of teenagers ripped the headscarf from a pregnant woman in Montreal, causing her to fall on the ground prompting the Quebec national assembly to pass a unanimous motion condemning hate speech and violence against all Quebecers.
Read: Muslim girl in hijab unveils H&M’s new collection
Commenting on the incident, The National Council of Canadian Muslims, who called it a hate crime, said it came at a time when “inflammatory rhetoric targeting Muslims” had been aggravated by the federal election campaign in which women who wear the niqab have been “vilified by politicians.”
Moreover, at a recent conference on race relations in Winnipeg, one Muslim woman said people look at her like she’s an alien because she wears a hijab.
The niqab issue has become a volatile one in the election campaign, particularly in the province of Quebec, where the vast majority of the population supports a ban on niqabs at citizenship ceremonies.
It has badly eroded the support in Quebec of the opposition New Democratic Party, which has declined to back the ban, and this has hurt the NDP’s national polling numbers.
This article originally appeared on CTV News