Niqab Rage: Canadian Woman Given Sentence for Anti-Muslim Bigotry

By Waleed Ahmed -MuslimMatters correspondent from Toronto

It was supposed to be just another shopping trip when Inas Kadri ventured out to the mall with her two little children last August. As she was browsing through the shops and checking out the sales, a woman approached her and started cursing and yelling at her. This woman swore at Kadri, who wears a niqab, about her religion and told her to “Leave our country. Go back to your country”. In her anger and rage, this woman took her hate to the next level and pulled off Kadri’s niqab. All this was caught in the mall’s security camera.

Last week, Kadri’s attacker, 66- year old Rosemarie Creswell, was given a one-year suspended sentence for assault. The judge also ruled she must serve 100 hours of community service, and suggested she educate herself about Muslims by attending a mosque. Creswell wrote a letter of apology to Kadri and said that, ‘Since that day, I have researched Muslim customs. I now have a much greater appreciation for what I did to you’.

This level of hate is generally unheard of here in Canada. What shocks me even more is that the act was committed in my own city of Mississauga; one of the most densely populated Muslim cities in the nation. Sheridan Center is an area surrounded by a large immigrant population and women wearing hijab is a common sight.

While the niqab is certainly not popular in Canada, as is evident in Quebec’s Bill 94, assaults on women wearing it is a first. It’s hard to gauge at this point if this is a fringe incident or a part of broader rise in anti-Muslim bigotry. This past summer’s movement to ban Friday prayers from Toronto schools and the apathy shown after PM’s remarks on ‘Islamicism’ are certainly indicators of growing uneasiness many Canadians have towards Muslims.

Inas Kadri’s intelligent and brave handling of this assault is a testament to her courage and confidence. Reporting such crimes is extremely important and many victims unfortunately are unable to do that. Doing so not only meant the attacker was brought to justice but it also allowed the average person to see the type of racism many Muslims experience. It also helps humanize niqab wearing women who often times are looked upon as the epitome of backwardness and subjugation.

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As an outspoken woman with a degree in computer engineering, Kadri certainly helps bust many myths people have about niqabis. When asked about her decision to wear the veil, during an interview on national television, she made it clear; “Not my father, not my husband, not no one at all” she said, “it’s me, and it’s my choice.”

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13 responses to “Niqab Rage: Canadian Woman Given Sentence for Anti-Muslim Bigotry”

  1. UmmKhalid says:

    Bigotry is definitely on the increase in Mississauga. I have experienced so much verbal abuse when I lived there last year. There were many kind people who spoke to me like a human, despite the fact that I wore niqab, but there were also the few who made me feel unsafe in my own country.

    I have never reported to police, because its never gone beyond verbal insults, and frankly, what can the police do about it when some stranger decides to shout at you ‘go back home’ when they are speeding down the road, or walks by, muttering &$@$ Muslims! If I am out, it’s coz I have errands that need to be done. I don’t have time for childish comments.

    One person I wish I had reported was a dark skinned employee at the OHIP office at westdale mall Mississauga. She humiliated me when I was trying to renew dd’s healthcard. She whispered to her coworkers and the security guards, refused to believe that I was Canadian, even though my passport and birth certificate were in front of her. Everyone was looking at us so I finally told her I feel like she is discriminating against me, and I asked her if she treats everyone this way? She replied that I am not like everyone else.

    • AbdulQ says:

      Asalaam Wa’ alaykum

      Sister, Im really sorry to hear that. You really should report it to http://www.ombudsman.on.ca/Make-A-Complaint.aspx

      – The Ontario Ombudsman oversees Service Ontario as well as other government organizations. iA they can be of assistance.

      This is absolutely despicable. I’m not surprised however, the protests in Toronto during last summer when the TDSB allowed Muslim Prayers in schools were horrific. I never thought I could feel that unwelcome in a country I was born and raised in. There were youtube videos of young sisters being picked off crowds and mobbed by people DEMANDING she prove the validity of Islam, then and there while being shouted at by everyone around her. We as Canadians (especially in the Toronto region) pride ourselves on multi-culturalism, or at least that’s what I thought! Maybe there’s Canadians just as bad as everyone else…only they hide it better!

    • Waleed Ahmed says:

      Wow. I am shocked to hear about the verbal assaults hurled at you…especially in Mississauga of all places. I can’t even begin to imagine the type of psychological distress that would cause you. May Allah protect you and give you strength.

      I would strongly encourage you to take the time to report these cases; especially when it’s from a government employee at OHIP. The more you report it, the more awareness it creates and we are able to recognize and deal with problems. Imagine if Inas Kadri didn’t report her assault…we wouldn’t be having this discussion right now. An assault is an assault; whether it be verbal or physical. I would hope the authorities take it just as seriously.

    • Maria says:

      Hi,

      I have a lot of muslim friends in France and go to interreligious chat groups. My best friend is a muslim lady.
      As I’m in France, none of my muslim friends wear the face niqab.
      I hate misunderstanding between people and aggression, and think that it’s horrible to do that to someone.
      I do believe that racist behavior should be reported, too.
      However, my own discomfort about the face niqab worries me, and I am looking for a website where one can discuss such matters
      with wearers of the face niqab, in order to get a better understanding of one another.
      Deep down I feel it’s wrong, because somewhere along the line I worry that the belief that a woman should cover their face might possibly be responsible for the mass rape of women in Cologne. This may be a stupid unfounded thought,and it makes me sound racist which I believe I’m truly not.
      I’m also worried because I hate the part of myself that might question someone’s mode of dress, even if it is just in my mind. I am a feminist. Maybe I feel threatened as a woman, and yet I know that many women wear it coming from a beautiful spiritual desire as it’s their way of feeling closer to God.
      My most sincere apologies if anyone feels offended. But my feelings about the face niqab in Europe is something I worry about everyday…. It may just come from the fact that I have no friends who wear the niqab.
      A western woman’s guilty dilemma…..
      So sorry…
      Yours sincerely,
      Maria

  2. Waseem says:

    MashaaAllah!! Bravo sisters may Allah help you and reward you for your courage ……and nice to know that Canada is much tolerant then some European countries ……but the I would also advise you to migrate to o muslim country if it gets difficult for for you practise your deen

  3. UmmKhalid says:

    What’s ironic is, I can’t remember ever being picked on by a ‘true’ Canadian. Most of them come to me, speaking in their heavy foreign accents, saying that we are in Canada, this is a free country, you don’t need to wear that. I then reply in perfect English (or Canadian French) that I know this is a free country, so I am also free to wear what I like, and practice the religion I believe in, and this is what I choose.

    I’d say about 30% of the negative remarks come from other Muslims… But they hurt 10x worse.

    • Abu Tauba says:

      By implying that those with accents are not ‘true Canadians’ you’ve done the same thing that racists do to you by claiming you are not a ‘true Canadian’ because of your skin color or the clothes you wear.

      We should be careful of how we perceive our world.

    • Umm Abdullah says:

      Its even worse when those muslims are your family members. It really really hurts.

  4. UmmKhalid says:

    Assalamu alaykum

    What I meant by that comment was that these are people who are new immigrants, telling others to get out of their country. You don’t see the irony in that? Even if I were not Canadian, I’d still find it ridiculous for a person to be new in the country and start telling everybody else to get out.

  5. shiney says:

    scary…May Allah Reward her for her courage and Iman!

  6. Umm Sulaim says:

    A similar incident occurred two days ago, except she knew I was prepared to thrash her.

    And I agree with Umm Khalid, the majority of the anti-niqab comments I have experienced come from cultural Muslims (of a particular tribe), and non-Muslims imitate them.

    A short while ago, my lecturer and I had a really good laugh that this city prides itself as the ‘seat of the khaliphate’ and as an ‘Islamic environment’, yet is a niqab-free zone like France.

    That is at the core of my five-year battles with them.

    Umm Sulaim

  7. Love says:

    Islam teach women to cover themselves so they will be respectable and honors. Open your heart and see what has become in Western woman nowadays. They look so cheap and let everyone see their body. Society teach us nothing more that an object. Pls have your time read this article, maybe this will increase your understanding about Islam.  http://www.yasminmogahed.com/2011/12/12/empowerment-of-women-speech/

  8. Veronica says:

    If you want to wear the niqab, then that’s your choice. But I do find it to be an odd choice in western society. Maybe wearing a veil in an Islamic country protects you from unwanted attention, but in a western country wearing it is going to do the exact opposite of what you want-it’s going to set you up as a target for unwanted harassment. It sounds like you’ve already gotten a lot of abuse because of this.

    I also want to explain why wearing this is making it easier for people to harass you. It is much easier to hurt someone that you cannot see. For example, it’s much easier to write something hurtful to someone anonymously over the Internet or say something nasty over the telephone compared to doing the same thing to someone who is facing you. By wearing a veil people are more willing to mistreat you because, to them, you’re not really a person. It’s not the right attitude, I certainly wouldn’t do it, but I just want to mention this so you better understand the risks of what you are doing.

    Anyway, if you’re happy wearing the niqab, then good for you.

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