Thorncliffe community marches against hate crime

After the Islamophobic attack at Flemingdon Park, the community held colourful banners, peacefully protesting.

Shara Fathima marched partly in solidarity, partly in fear.

“It is scary to think that this could have been me,” she said.

Fathima lives in Flemingdon Park, near where a woman was attacked while meeting her children at Grenoble Public School on Nov. 16. The victim is Muslim and she was wearing a hijab. So does Shara Fathima.

“I could have been attacked, based on the way I wear my scarf,” Fathima said.

Fathima, also a Muslim, wore her hijab as she marched in solidarity against such attacks. Members of the Thorncliffe neighbourhood marched on Friday, Nov. 20. Community chairs, MPs, the police and average citizens held banners protesting Islamaphobia.

Bill Pashby, board chair of the Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office, said that the incident has discouraged his community. The agency decided to organize the parade, together with the police, in support of multiculturalism.

“I am hopeful that this event would lead to a positive thing,” Pashby said. “People need to realize how important it is to be good to those who look and act a little different.”

Arif Virani, Member of Parliament for Parkdale-High Park, said that the parade demonstrated that the country will not tolerate such attacks.

“We are trying to share a message that we are an inclusive society,” Virani said. “We are a society that looks after one another.”

Several Toronto Police Service officers were also present at the parade. According to Staff Sgt. Matt Moyer, 53 Division, tangible steps are being made to help those in the community feel they are being supported and protected by police. He indicated that the TPS Community Crisis Response Team is involved in preventing hate crime.

“Divisions are taking an active role in making sure that we co-operate,” Moyer said. “We want to communicate that we don’t see borders; we see communities.”

The brother of the woman who was attacked at Flemingdon Park attended the peaceful protest, but he did not speak to media.

Hate crime has not gone away in Toronto, however. On Nov. 19, two women wearing the hijab were harrassed on the Toronto subway.

Shara Fathima strongly endorsed the march.

“We are all victims in this together as humans,” she said, “so we should be standing together and supporting each other.”