Calgary Muslim women fearing terrorism backlash

Muslim women in Calgary are saying they've felt harassed since the Charlie Hebdo massacre in France.

'It's different now for a lady to wear a hijab. She needs courage,' says local Muslim woman

A Calgary woman says confusion at a four-way stop yesterday prompted a man to pull up beside her car, punch her windows and scream racial slurs. (Devin Heroux/CBC)

Muslim women in Calgary are saying they've felt harassed since the Charlie Hebdo massacre in France.

"I'm a mom for four amazing kids. I'm raising my kids as any other mom is doing," said Hiba after the incident. (Devin Heroux/CBC)

Hiba, who agreed to an interview but asked CBC not to use her last name out of concern of being harassed, has worn a hijab throughout her life without any worry about wearing it. 

"It's different now for a lady to wear a hijab. She needs courage," she said. "It's not only a sign of worship.... She needs strength."

Hiba said she was dropping her child off at school Monday when there was confusion at a four-way stop.

She claims a man pulled up beside her and started yelling racial slurs.

"He starts punching the mirror, then he starts punching the window," she said. "He was so aggressive."

Hiba says the confrontation went on for at least six minutes while her two-year-old son cried in the backseat. 

Hate crimes not taken seriously, says activist

The man only left when she threatened to call the police.

"I was terrified. I was scared. I thought my life was threatened," she said.

Local peace activist Saima Jamal has documented four separate verbal attacks against Muslim women since the massacre in France. She says one woman was just walking in the mall wearing a hijab and was spit on.

"Lately, I'm feeling this issue of hate crimes against Muslims is not being taken very seriously," she said.

In Hiba's case, police say both parties have submitted statements in what police are considering a road rage incident. They say they have reviewed the case and don't plan to investigate further or lay charges.

Jamal says she still has faith in Calgarians but she wants the mayor to speak out about incidents targeting Muslim women.

Meanwhile, the Akram Jomaa Islamic Centre is inviting all Calgarians to attend an event next Monday to promote cultural understanding. For more information visit Saima Jamal's website

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