Group demands attack of Black Muslim woman be probed as hate crime

Aasiyah Khan of the National Council of Canadian Muslims is questioning why the alleged assailant received an aggravated assault charge rather than a charge of attempted murder.

Leading Muslim organizations based in the Canadian provincial capital of Winnipeg are demanding that the city’s police investigate an attack on a young Black Muslim woman as a hate crime.

On the evening of June 8, a man repeatedly stabbed an unidentified 18-year-old woman working inside an Olive Garden. She was taken to the hospital in unstable condition, CBC News reported.

Aasiyah Khan, acting CEO of the National Council of Canadian Muslims, said at a news conference Tuesday that the groups were banding together “in solidarity with one of our own.”

Muslim woman hate crime Canada
Aasiyah Khan (above), acting CEO of the National Council of Canadian Muslims, is among those questioning why authorities in Winnipeg, Manitoba, determined an attack on a Black Muslim woman to be “random” rather than a targeted hate crime. (Photo: Screenshot/YouTube.com/Happy Strong Family)

“Make no mistake,” Khan said, CBC reported, “we could have been coming to a funeral today.”

Police allege that Robert Alan Ingram, 27, randomly attacked the victim without cause. He is accused of aggravated assault, possessing a weapon and violating a probation order.

However, Khan said organizations in the Islamic community dispute that the incident was random and demand a further inquiry to see whether it was targeted or motivated by hate.

Khan read a statement from the Somali victim, who recalled that nobody else in the restaurant was a member of a visible minority or wearing a hijab. The perpetrator, she maintained, was gazing at her.

The victim said Ingram kept a close eye on her for about 30 minutes before briefly leaving the restaurant. He returned shortly after and stabbed her in the neck, body and arms, she said. When she was able to fight back, she caused him to stumble and witnesses stepped in to intervene, her statement said, according to CBC.

Police informed the victim they had classified the attack as random while she was still in the hospital and could not provide a complete statement.

“He didn’t go on a random stabbing spree,” she said. “He went straight for me. I know I could have died.”

Khan and others want to know why police made their decisions before hearing the victim’s whole account and why Ingram received an aggravated assault rather than an attempted murder charge.

Police in Winnipeg, the capital of the province of Manitoba, do not believe the victim and alleged assailant knew each other, Chief Danny Smyth shared Tuesday afternoon.

He added that while he supports the Muslim community, no evidence supports the attack being a hate crime. However, it is a severe crime, and the suspect received a serious charge of aggravated assault, he said.

Although police can modify charges if the evidence is there, Smyth said he is confident detectives performed a thorough review and addressed the issues voiced in private, CBC reported.

Abdikheir Ahmed, who has worked with immigrant and refugee communities in Winnipeg in various positions, said he has made tremendous efforts to foster trust between law enforcement and communities of color. Those efforts are put to the test at times like this, he added.

“When someone drives a knife on your neck, aimed at your jugular, [and] punctures your lungs and attacks you as the only person of color in that restaurant … you cannot come down to the possibility of this being a random attack,” Ahmed said, CBC reported. “We need to do better.”

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