A Muslim mother was shopping in a grocery store when she was allegedly hit and spat on by a woman wearing a “Canada” shirt of all things. During the altercation, the victim’s hijab was removed.
I don’t like the idea that anyone in my city or in my country could be attacked without provocation, but this particular story didn’t sit right.
From NDP Member of Provincial Parliament Peggy Sattler to Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, politicians lined up to denounce this “hate crime” against Muslims. Media outlets didn’t challenge anything, but accepted at face value that a crime against a Muslim must be a hate crime.
When police in London identified and charged the suspect, they only charged her with common assault—not anything "hate" motivated.
More curiously, they refused to name her, which is a stark departure from their usual practices, through which the names of anyone charged are released to the media. Even when asked by media outlets, police were tight-lipped.
Not one news article appeared mentioning the name of the accused, nor did anyone cover the details of her first appearance in court. One detail in particular.
And I think I found out why.
After accessing court records, I learned that the accused is 38-year old Sheila Shaidaie of London. We don’t yet know her motivations for the alleged assault, but we do know one thing:
When she appeared in court, she had a Farsi interpreter.
Farsi is a language spoken almost exclusively by people from Iran. We also know the Muslim population of Iran is about 99.4 per cent.
We don’t know whether Shaidaie herself is a Muslim. We don’t know whether this alleged attack was random or targeted towards the victim because she was a Muslim. There is a lot about this that we don’t know—and part of covering court cases is learning as things unfold.
But in the absence of anything more concrete, reporters and politicians spared no effort in proclaiming to have already identified the accused’s motivation.
The facts are irrelevant to them, as their refusal to cover this case any further has indicated.
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