Edmonton police threaten charges for distributing anti-Islam flyers
Community coalition calls on Edmontonians to condemn racist acts
Edmonton police are warning charges could be laid as hate crimes officers investigate a fifth incident of distribution of anti-Islam flyers in just over a month.
And a community coalition is urging Edmontonians to condemn acts of racism.
"I'm calling all Edmontonians to stand up together to voice their condemnation collectively," said Ahmed Abdulkadir, chairperson of the steering committee of the Safety Summit, comprised of 80 organizations including representatives from many racialized groups.
Last weekend residents in the northeast neighbourhood of Evansdale complained about finding vile posters in their mailboxes. They showed a graphic image depicting the prophet Muhammad as a pedophile and promoting burning of the Qur'an.
"This is a criminal act," acting Supt. Dan Jones told a news conference Tuesday, describing the investigation as resource-heavy involving several units. "They need to stop it. And we will focus our investigation on bringing them into the justice system if we find them."
Jones encouraged Edmontonians to remain vigilant and contact police if they see suspicious activity or think they have evidence that could help identify suspects.
Nobody should feel unsafe because of their religion, their colour, their ethnicity, their race- Dan Jones
"Nobody should feel unsafe in their homes, nobody should feel unsafe being who they are and nobody should feel unsafe because of their religion, their colour, their ethnicity, their race," said Jones. "As an organization we don't accept it and as a city we don't accept it. And the one positive thing that comes out of this is people are saying that."
In September, racist posters targeting the Sikh community turned up on the University of Alberta campus. At the beginning of October, residents in Richfield found anti-Islam flyers in their mailboxes — one of several such incidents aimed at Muslims.
"Muslims right now, they're being targeted in so many different ways," said Abdulkadir, who added he has received many calls from fearful and upset community members.
"People ask the Muslim community to speak up always when there's an instance of terrorism happening. When the Muslims are being terrorized, others have to show their voice and speak up so we can collectively be safe."
Abdulkadir said posters have also been distributed in Dickensfield, where many Syrian newcomer families have settled.
He said the messaging of the flyers in at least three of the incidents are "very connected."
The posters are the latest in a string of racist incidents to shock Edmontonians, in a city where anti-immigrant group Soldiers of Odin have recently set up shop.
Edmontonians have responded by showing broadbased support for those being targeted while declaring the behavior unacceptable.
In September, actor Jesse Lipscombe, who caught a racist incident on video, teamed up with Iveson to launch an anti-racism campaign called #MakeItAwkward, which was widely embraced in Edmonton and beyond.
- #MakeitAwkward: Edmonton racial slurs inspire new campaign
Abdulkadir's group, which includes representation from a wide range of agencies including Wicihitowin, Boyle Street, Reach and Edmonton police, is requesting a meeting with the mayor to see what more can be done.
"The mayor condemns in the strongest way such expression of inflammatory speech, which is inconsistent with the mayor's vision for an uplifting and inclusive city," said spokesperson Cheryl Oxford, confirming the mayor's office has received the request but Iveson is currently in Miami. "The Edmonton we aspire to is a city that embraces and welcomes newcomers and diversity."