Muslim woman told to 'go back home' in note found in mailbox

A Muslim woman in Ottawa plans to contact police after she found a handwritten note in her mailbox telling her "Canada is no place for terrorists or immigrants."

Ottawa police step up patrols where large groups of people congregate

Eren Cervantes-Altamirano says she found an offensive, racist note in her mailbox on Wednesday. (Ashley Burke/CBC)

A Muslim woman in Ottawa plans to call police after she found a handwritten note in her mailbox telling her "Canada is no place for terrorists or immigrants."

Eren Cervantes-Altamirano said she discovered the handwritten note in her mailbox on Wednesday, which told her to "go back home."

Eren Cervantes-Altamirano says she plans to call police to report the note she found, though she's not sure police will be able to help. (Ashley Burke/CBC)

Cervantes-Altamirano, who was born in Mexico, converted to Islam six years ago and writes for some Muslim blogs.

She has no idea who would pen such a note, she said, adding it frightened her.

"When you get something like this in your home, it's different than when you get any racist reactions in other places, because it's right in a place that is very vulnerable ... It's slightly terrifying," she said.

"You don't necessarily know why you're being targeted, you don't know if it's your neighbours ... you don't know if someone is watching you, you don't know if it's a matter of being a Muslim, a minority, a woman of colour or all of those. I don't know."

Cervantes-Altamirano posted the note on social media. She's skeptical police will be able to do anything with the note, but she plans to file a report after strangers online told her she should.

Ottawa police step up visibility 

The note comes after several recent attacks against Muslims in Ontario following the attacks in Paris last week.

A mosque in Peterborough, Ont., was badly damaged by a fire that appears to have been deliberately set.

In Kitchener, a Hindu temple's windows were broken by rock-throwing vandals — in that case, police haven't ruled out the possibility that the attack was a misguided retaliation for what happened in Paris.

In Toronto, a Muslim woman reported she was attacked from behind while picking up her children from school and beaten by two white men who called her a "terrorist."​ 

Speaking on CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning Thursday, Ottawa Police Chief Charles Bordeleau said he's glad Cervantes-Altamirano is coming forward with the note. (CBC News)

Speaking to Robyn Bresnahan, host of CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning, on Thursday, Ottawa Police Chief Charles Bordeleau said the force has received a number of requests from local faith groups asking for an increased police presence following the attacks in Paris and Ontario.

"We are not actively providing security at any institution, but dropping by and increasing our patrols, vigilance and visibility at all institutions that gather large crowds," Bordeleau said.

He also said he feels "terrible" Cervantes-Altamirano received such a note.

"This is not Ottawa. And I'm glad that she's coming forth and that she's informing us of that so we can follow up on it," he said. "We'll see exactly what, from an evidentiary perspective, we can gather from that letter."

Bordeleau also sent a note to Ottawa faith leaders the day after the attacks in Paris saying police encourage anyone to come forward if they feel unsafe or threatened.

'May be a piece of a puzzle'

Amira Elghawaby, a spokeswoman for the National Council of Canadian Muslims, said her organization tracks threatening attacks and incidents towards Muslims in an online map.

Amira Elghawaby, a spokeswoman for the National Council of Canadian Muslims, says every potential threat should be reported to police. (CBC News)

While some people feel reluctant to go to police about what happens to them, she said the council encourages them to do so.

"We really emphasize to everyone that they really need to go and report whatever they're seeing and what's happening, because it may be a piece of a puzzle," she said.

"Someone may yell at you on one street and then over on the next street they may actually take it out into a physical assault, and so whatever pieces of information we can provide for police, that will insure that these perpetrators are apprehended and charged if necessary."