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Ottawa police charge 74-year-old after woman’s hijab removed at Israel protest

Woman charged with assault, harassment and mischief
The Ottawa police hate crime unit have charged an unnamed elderly woman with assault, after they say she removed another woman’s headscarf near a protest about events in the Middle East. Pro-Palestinian protesters rally at Ottawa City Hall after the city raised the Israeli flag in Ottawa, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

The Ottawa police hate-crime unit has charged an unnamed older woman with assault, harassment by threatening conduct and mischief after a woman’s hijab was pulled off at a recent protest.

Pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian groups gathered last week outside city hall after the Israeli flag was raised to mark 76 years since that country’s establishment.

Police say a woman wearing a hijab was attending a lawful demonstration when someone approached and removed the headscarf “while making lewd gestures.”

They say they identified that person as a 74-year-old woman, but won’t share her name or when she is due to appear in court.

A short video from the event that was shared on social media shows a woman in a dark hijab waving a Palestinian flag when another woman approaches her from behind.

In the video, the approaching woman makes an obscene gesture at the camera, then appears to pull the hijab off the other woman’s head.

Police services across the country have reported a rise in reports of Islamophobic and antisemitic hate crimes since the Israel-Hamas war began in October.

The force is asking anyone who has witnessed or experienced such incidents to report them, saying this can help in “stopping cycles of hatred.”

Asked why the alleged perpetrator is not being identified in this case, Acting Sgt. Mike Cudrasov said in a statement that people are not always publicly named, and that happens at the discretion of the Hate and Bias Crime Unit.

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The Canadian Press