'This is the real Saskatoon': Muslim man walks with hundreds along route where he was attacked

The Muslim man who was attacked while walking home from a Saskatoon mosque walked that path again today - this time with hundreds of supporters.

About 200 attend event in support of Abu Sheikh, who was attacked while walking home from a Saskatoon mosque

The Sheikhs led the walk with friends and family at their side. (Ashleigh Mattern/CBC)

The Muslim man who was attacked while walking home from a Saskatoon mosque walked that path again on Saturday — this time with hundreds of supporters.

On July 13, Abu Sheikh was walking home from his morning prayers at the mosque in his traditional clothes when a truck mounted the sidewalk in front of him and the driver attempted to run him down.

The truck followed him home, and the people inside later threw bricks at the Sheikhs' house.

On Saturday, Sheikh's family hosted Neighbours Without Borders, an event to show unity. They invited the community to meet at the mosque near the Sheikhs' home and take the same walk as Abu did the day he was attacked. 

His daughter, Aisha Sheikh, said she wanted him to feel as safe as he once did. 

"Compassion needs action. So people felt really negative and disheartened by what happened and we really wanted to have a chance for people to show my father that he is wanted in Saskatoon and it is safe for him."

About 200 people attended the Neighbours Without Borders event in Grosvenor Park on Saturday. (Ashleigh Mattern/CBC)

Aisha said the event was a way for the family to cope as they worked together and with the community to bring about a positive experience for their city.

About 200 people came to the event, including dignitaries like Mayor Charlie Clark, Deputy Premier Gordon Wyant and provincial NDP leader Ryan Meili.

Speaking front of the crowd Meili said the community response was inspiring in the wake of the attack.

"The response could easily have been one of anger, one of turning away from the community." he said. "But they did the opposite. They did something very, very impressive, something very courageous. They used this as an opportunity to come together."

At the Sheikhs' house, Abu handed out flowers which were put in a garden under the boarded-up windows of the house.

Merilyn Irwin is a member of the community and was shaken when she heard what happened to Abu. To her, being out in public with others, showing their support, was a great response.

"It's an easy thing, to have people come together and feel like we have a sense of belonging," said Irwin. 

"During a time of adversity, we can stand together."

Guests and volunteers were invited to help beautify the Sheikhs' house with flowers. (Ashleigh Mattern/CBC)

The mood was happy and celebratory as the procession made its way down Cumberland Avenue and back to the park near the mosque.

In the park, cake and tea was served, and Abu spoke briefly to thank the gathered crowd for their solidarity and support.

"I see in front of me, this is the real Saskatoon," he said. "I just say thank you all for coming today, for making me feel safe again."

About the Author

Ashleigh Mattern

Ashleigh Mattern is a web writer and reporter with CBC Saskatoon, and an associate producer with Saskatoon Morning. She has been working as a journalist since 2007 and joined CBC in 2017. Email: ashleigh.mattern@cbc.ca

With files from Alec Salloum