Attack on hijab-wearing women in Hamilton, Ontario, reminiscent of London rampage, Muslim group says

According to a statement released by the family of the victims, the attack involved an individual driving "dangerously up to our family members"

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      In Ontario, Hamilton police have announced that a 40-year-old man has been arrested in connection with a hate-motivated attack on two Muslim women wearing hijabs.

      The charges filed Tuesday afternoon include three charges of uttering death threats, two charges of assault with a weapon, a charge of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, and failure to comply with probation. Hamilton police say they are not releasing the name of the suspect until he appears in court.

      According to a statement released by the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) on behalf of the family of the victims hours before the arrest, the attack occurred on Monday evening and involved an individual driving “dangerously up to our family members”.

      “He swore at them. He cursed them with a number of racist and Islamophobic slurs. He threatened to murder them. He tried to tail them home in his vehicle,” the statement goes on to say. “We are shaken but unbroken after the attack on our family. Let us be clear: this individual attempted to terrorize our family.”

      Hamilton Police Service said in a statement released earlier Tuesday afternoon that they are investigating the incident as a hate-motivated crime.

      Police say a mother and daughter were walking through a parking lot in a plaza in the Ancaster Meadowlands when “an interaction occurred after a vehicle pulling out of a parking spot almost struck one of the victims. The interaction escalated with the suspect uttering threats towards the victims while using racial slurs targeting the Muslim community.”

      The police statement says the women “ran across the street and hid behind some bushes, while the suspect searched for them. He eventually located them and threatened to kill them. One of the victims ran screaming for help and witnesses intervened as the suspect fled the area.”

      The NCCM is calling for “stronger action” on anti-Muslim attacks after a June attack on a Muslim family with a pick-up truck in London, Ontario. Nathanial Veltman, 20, has been charged with four counts of murder, one attempted murder charge and terrorism charges. Veltman has hired Toronto-based lawyer Christopher Hicks to represent him.

      The federal government responded to the incident by agreeing to convene a summit of leaders from all levels of government “to chart a path forward for Canada in ending violence against Muslims”.

      “From appointing a Special Envoy on Islamophobia to removing discriminatory laws in Canada, to ensuring that anti-racism and anti-Islamophobia become part of our education system, to changing the way that municipalities deal with street harassment, a whole of government approach is needed,” NCCM communications coordinator Fatema Abdalla said at the time.

      Since the London attack, there have been other attacks targeting the Muslim community, including on June 15 at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, where two individuals tried to enter the premises and “uttered several violent threats.” NCCM says the threats “included bomb threats against the institution.” In addition, there have also been a number of attacks on Muslim women reported in Alberta.

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