Saskatoon man assaulted, has part of beard cut off in attack motivated by anti-Muslim hate

A Saskatoon man was stabbed, beaten and had his beard cut in an early-morning attack motivated by anti-Muslim hate.

Man says assailants yelled, 'Why you are here?' and told him they didn't like that he is Muslim

Muhammad Kashif says he was cut, hit over the head and had part of his beard cut off in an early morning attack in Saskatoon on Friday. (Submitted by Muhammad Kashif)

WARNING: This story contains details and an image of an injury readers may find disturbing.

A Saskatoon man was stabbed, beaten and had his beard cut in an early-morning attack motivated by anti-Muslim hate.

Muhammad Kashif said the attack happened around 5:30 a.m. CST Friday morning in an east-side alley. He said he was near his parked car when another car drove up behind him.

"They attacked ... on my back with a knife or something," Kashif said, adding they were also verbally abusing him.

"Using F-word and saying 'Why you are here? We don't like you are Muslim, why are you wearing this dress?'

"And then one guy held my hands and the other guy cut my beard."

Kashif said he was stabbed in the arm and then hit over the head with the cane he uses for walking, knocking him unconscious. He said the attackers were gone when he regained consciousness.

He lost his keys and phone in the attack and tried to get help at a neighbour's house, but they were asleep. He was eventually able to flag down someone driving by.

"He asked me what happened, I told him, 'I have a stab' and then he called 911."

Kashif was taken to hospital where he received 14 stitches to close a wound on his arm.

Kashif needed 14 stitches to close a wound on his arm after an attack Friday morning in Saskatoon. (Submitted by Muhammad Kashif)

He said police came to the hospital and took a statement from him.

Saskatoon police said the serious assault unit is investigating with support from the equity and cultural engagement unit. 

They are asking anyone with information or who may have witnessed the assault to call police.

Kashif said he is unsure if there were two or three attackers, but that he recognized one of them as a person who had previously verbally abused him.

Kashif said he came to Saskatoon in 2006 from Montreal.

"I am 12 years old when I came to this country and they are telling me, 'why you are here?'" he said. "Why do they have to cut my beard?"

Kashif said the attack has left him, his wife and their three young children very scared.

This is what Kashif's beard looked like before he was attacked. (Submitted by Muhammad Kashif)

A Walk Against Racism and Islamophobia is happening in Saskatoon Friday evening. Ali Ahmad, director of social and cultural affairs of the Pakistan Canada Cultural Association of Saskatoon, is one of the organizers.

He said the walk was originally arranged in response to the June 6 attack in London, Ont., that killed four members of a Muslim family as they were out for an evening walk, but that there have since been more incidents such as the recent attack on two sisters wearing hijabs outside of Edmonton by a man wielding a knife, and now the Saskatoon incident Friday morning. 

"Of course I was angry and horrified [when told of Friday's attack]," Ahmad said. "But more importantly, I was confused. I don't want events like this happening in my city, in my home."

Ahmad said there is a fear in the community.

"We need to reassure them that they are safe," he said. "We need to create a sense of security that they can walk freely in this home, in this city they call home."

Ahmad said Saskatoon has to come up with a long-term strategy to confront these hateful acts of violence.

With files from Morgan Modjeski