Muslim women feeling 'unsafe': Manitoba Islamic Association

Manitoba's Muslim community is on edge after recent Islamophobic attacks in Ontario, some of which targeted women.

Spokesperson hopes an open house at Grand Mosque will prevent Islamophobic acts in Winnipeg

Eptifam Esshaki, spokesperson for Manitoba Islamic Association, says Muslim women in the province are feeling threatened and unsafe after recent anti-Muslim incidents in Ontario. (Supplied photo)

Manitoba's Muslim community feels threatened after recent acts of Islamophobia in Ontario.

"Especially women now, they are feeling [threatened] after the attacks [in] Toronto, everyone is feeling sometimes unsafe," said Eptifam Esshaki, spokesperson for Manitoba Islamic Association.

In Toronto, two women riding a subway on Wednesday were verbally assaulted and physically accosted, the Toronto Transit Commission reported.

On a separate public transit system in the Greater Toronto Area, racist graffiti against Muslim girls was discovered in a train washroom.

Last weekend, a mosque in Peterborough, Ont., was burned down, an act being treated as a hate crime.

There are concerns around the world that recent attacks in Paris could spur anti-Muslim violence. Recent instances of Islamophobia in Canada bring those threats closer to home, said Esshaki. 
Staff discovered this anti-Muslim graffiti in an a GO Transit train washroom on Wednesday night. This image has been modified to obscure profanity. (Metrolinx)

"Especially when we hear the news, attacking Muslim women with hijab and pulling them, threatening them and beating them up. I think it's a big threat for us, yes," said Esshaki.

She hopes that an open house this weekend will help prevent any assaults from arising in Winnipeg.

"We are hoping to reach out to other communities and other faiths to understand [Islam]," said Esshaki.

The annual open house at Winnipeg's Grand Mosque gives non-Muslims an opportunity to tour the mosque and ask questions, including about: "Islam, about terrorists, about women's rights, human rights, hijab/niqab, praying time," Esshaki said.

She said the questions do work to break down barriers, even if they may be difficult or expose potential Islamophobia.

"[The open houses] build bridges between the communities and better understanding [of] us and our community," she said.

The Grand Mosque's open house takes place on Sunday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at 2445 Waverley St.


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