Edmonton police have charged a 34-year-old man after a Muslim woman was attacked in front of her children outside of a mosque on New Year's Day.
Police said the man was arrested and charged after he allegedly attacked a woman in northeast Edmonton, near the Al Ameen Mosque at 54th Street and 122nd Avenue.
The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) said in a release that the attacker targeted a Black Muslim woman, who was in a vehicle with her three children.
The NCCM said the man punched and spit on the vehicle while yelling violent threats at the woman. The man at one point left the area but he returned with a shovel and continued his attack. Mosque property was also damaged.
Mustafa Farooq, CEO of the NCCM, said the incident has affected many in the community.
"Incidents like this result in a great deal of trauma, they result in a great degree of insecurity and they result in a great deal of fear," he said.
"We've had repeated attacks on primarily Black Muslim women. This is unacceptable. It needs to stop and we really need a whole government approach."
Farooq wants to see all levels of government work on an educational approach together including utilizing recommendations from a national summit on Islamaphobia that was held by the NCCM
"I talk to, unfortunately, so many people in my hometown here of Edmonton who say that they don't necessarily feel safe to walk on the street, to take public transit, because of what they worship and what they look like."
The NCCM is actively working with the city on its strategy.
Edmonton city council passed a motion during its first meeting after the election asking city administration to work with Edmonton's anti-racism advisory committee and racialized communities to address hate-based violence in the city. A city spokesperson said those findings are expected in mid-February.
Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said was saddened by the news of the attack.
"I can't imagine how scared she and her children must have felt," he said in an emailed statement.
"No one should ever be made to feel unsafe because of the colour of their skin, their religion or any other reason … Addressing hate-based violence is a top priority for our council."
The man has been charged with mischief under $5,000 and uttering threats.
"Investigators have also recommended that Section 718.2 of the Criminal Code of Canada be applied in this case, allowing the courts to consider increased sentencing when there is evidence the offence was motivated by hatred," Edmonton police said in an email Tuesday.
EPS said in a release that it continues to provide support to the family through its crime and trauma-informed support services.