By PATRICK MALONEY
Last Updated: 10th November 2009, 9:34am
A woman had her head covering torn off and was pelted with anti-Arab slurs in an attempted stabbing London police are treating as a hate crime.
The suspect who attacked the 52-year-old woman in the elevator of a Jalna Ave. apartment building Sunday morning made comments referring to Arabs and terrorism after pulling off and tearing her attire, police said last night.
"The suspect said something like ‘you Arab terrorist," said Const. Marcel Marcellin, the London police force’s diversity officer. "It’s unfortunate when people in our community express their views using violence.
"Hearing something like this, it’s concerning."
One local Muslim leader, who hadn’t heard about the attack and spoke generally about his community’s feelings of safety, says the city is not considered a dangerous place. The nature of the attack — in an elevator with no one else around — proves most Londoners don’t tolerate hate-based attacks, said Mohammad Yassine, former chair of the Association of London Muslims.
"So, would he dare do it in public under the scrutiny of his neighbours? They wouldn’t allow him," Yassine said. "That tells you yes, in general, the community is safe. (But) I would advise people to be careful not to walk in areas that are not well-lit . . . when they are identifiable."
The woman entered an elevator in an apartment building on Jalna Blvd. just after 11 a.m. Sunday when a man she didn’t know stabbed at her with an unidentified object, piercing her clothing, police said. He then pulled off her head covering, police said, and tore it with the weapon.
The comments he made to her are what has officers treating the incident as a hate crime.
The suspect is described as a white man between 30 and 35, standing 5’7” and wearing a black leather jacket and black toque.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.
Details of the attack were made public last night, just hours before the force launched a campaign in support of the London’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community — which was rattled by two attacks in September that police suspect may have been hate-motivated.
The awareness campaign, dubbed Report Homophobic Violence Period (RHVP), is designed to encourage victims of such crimes to contact police about them, Marcellin said.
Helen Kennedy of EGALE (Equality for Gays And Lesbians Everywhere) Canada attended last night’s launch and said while relations with police are getting better, they’re not perfect.
"The (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community has never in the past had a stellar relationship with the police but that is changing," Kennedy said.