BY KELLY ROCHE
Police are investigating a suspected hate crime after a Muslim woman was assaulted in a diverse Mississauga neighbourhood.
“She was targeted because of her hijab,” said Peel Regional Police Const. George Tudos.
The 26-year-old Mississauga woman was leaving work on Tues. Nov. 17 at 7:30 p.m. in the Dundas St. W. and Hurontario St. area; housing an array of ethnic grocers and dining options.
A man grabbed the victim by her shoulders and made derogatory remarks, however, a Good Samaritan intervened and he was able to stop the assault.
The suspect fled on foot, and the victim didn’t suffer any physical injuries.
Word of the attack left Sara Fattah, 20, seething.
“That easily could’ve been my mom,” said Fattah, adding her mother and younger sister wear a hijab.
A half-dozen hate crimes have been reported in Ontario since the Nov. 13 Paris attacks killed at least 130 people and injured hundreds.
ISIS has taken credit for the bombings, sparking an ensuing backlash against Muslims around the world.
Now, when Fattah’s family members go out, “I think, ‘are they going to be OK? Is someone going to harass them?,'” said Fattah.
Growing up in north Mississauga, “none of this stuff has ever happened … I feel like we’re going back in time,” she said.
“Come on, it’s 2015. Open up your minds. It’s kind of insane.”
Hala Skiek, 20, lives in the Square One area.
She said she started wearing a hijab last April – of her own volition – and has never faced discrimination for doing so.
“It’s a little surprising because with everything going on, I would expect something to happen but thankfully, nothing has happened,” said Skiek.
Mississauga’s Arab population is 6.5 per cent, according to the 2011 National Household Survey, and 4 per cent in Peel region.
Skiek said she’s left wondering why only Muslim women are being targeted, making her more cautious about her surroundings.
“It’s really sad because I’m not — like, I’m such a peaceful person,” Skiek said.
“And I’m really kind. I don’t hurt people. I don’t have that intention.”
Due to the terror attacks “and a few people that cause chaos, they blame a whole religion,” she said.
Skiek was happy to hear a stranger stepped in to defend the victim in the Nov. 17 incident.
“I’m glad there are people out there that are willing to speak up,” she said.
It’s validating when people who aren’t Muslim or Arab intervene, because “they know we’re not all evil people,” Skiek said.
“If I were to ever get into a situation like that, I would definitely love it if people, like, spoke up and, you know, defended me because …it sucks when you’re on your own,” said Skiek.
The suspect is described as white, between 30-to-40-years, standing 5-foot-8 to 5-foot-10, with brown eyes and a chubby build.
The man had reddish-brown hair and a goatee, and was wearing glasses. The suspect was last seen in a dark hoodie and dark jeans.
Police would also like to speak with the Good Samaritan to help identify the suspect.
Call (905) 453-2121 ext. 1233 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 if you have any information.