'Questioning whether I am Canadian': Some Edmonton Muslims fear backlash after attack
Bashir Mohamed, of Black Lives Matter Edmonton, said it's frustrating that some people assume Muslims would side with the attacker, not their hometown.
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Bashir Mohamed was seated at his computer in his Jasper Ave apartment when he heard the first police car, sirens screaming, careen down Edmonton’s main downtown drive.
He clicked over to Twitter, and saw all the posts about the attack Saturday that sent five people, including one police officer, to hospital, in what the police are currently investigating as an act of terrorism.
His first thought was a quick hope that no one had been killed.
His second? For the Muslim community he knew would be blamed in the attack.
“The Muslim community is often the first one that is scapegoated,” he told Metro Sunday morning.
Mohamed, a member of the Edmonton chapter of Black Lives Matter, says he’s gotten several responses from people online, asking him to condemn acts of terrorism.
“Those comments are a little frustrating because the assumption seems to be that until we prove otherwise that we’re with the attacker rather than with our city,” he said.
“Immediately they were questioning whether I am Canadian, saying you should keep track of your mosque,” he said, adding that he got more after the news broke of the attacker’s alleged Daesh (often referred to as the Islamic State) flag.
Walking outside the Matrix hotel Sunday morning, Aziz Kanji, a Muslim Edmontonian, said scapegoating can happen after events like this.
"As a Muslim person who had gone through 9/11 here, nobody sat next to me on a bus," he said.
"People have their own agendas, they want to do their own thing and the easiest thing to blame is race or religion."
His girlfriend, Chelsea Lawrie, said she worried for her boyfriend's safety.
"It makes me feel sad that he has to go through that, and his family has to go through that. For me this hits close to home," she said.
"I think that it’s up to society to educate themselves, to learn that this isn’t everybody."
In a release Sunday morning, the Alberta Muslim Public Affairs Council “strongly condemned” the attack.
“We are shocked, saddened and horrified that these attacks took place in Edmonton," Faisal Khan Suri, AMPAC President, wrote. "We condemn these attacks and hope the perpetrator is quickly brought to justice.”
Mohamed points out that Muslims have a long history in Edmonton — the country’s first mosque, the Al Rashid mosque, was built here in the 1930s.
“I think that’s something that's important for this generation to understand,” he said.
He added that he will be watching the city’s reaction in the days to come.
“First and foremost I’m going to be mourning for my community, second I’m going to be watching the reaction to make sure there’s no backlash,” he said.
“Finally, I’m going to read the information as it comes in, bacause this is my city.”