January 30, 2021
On December 8, 2020, a white man yelling “racially motivated obscenities” violently attacked two black Muslim women*, a mother and her adult daughter wearing hijabs, as they sat parked in their car at an Edmonton mall. Fortunately, citizens intervened even before police arrived. There was an outpouring of sympathy for the women. A well-known member of the Somali community shared her response to the attack: “I feel unsafe. I’ve never felt unsafe in Canada before. Is it my skin colour? Is it my scarf? I don’t know which one I need to shed” (Dylan Short, Edmonton Journal, Dec 10/20). Beyond the threat felt by individuals, the entire community that identifies with the victims is alarmed and traumatized.
In response, Sameha Omer of the National Council of Canadian Muslims called on Alberta’s government and mayors to create a plan to stop street harassment and end racist violence, saying, “There is no place for such intolerance and hate in our shared communities. Now more than ever, we need to take a stand”, and “We ignore the existence of white supremacists and Islamophobes at our peril” (Colette Derworiz, Canadian Press, Jan 6/21). Jibril Ibrahim, President of the Somali Canadian Cultural Society, proposed that the Edmonton Public School Board adopt strategies such as having interfaith calendars to educate toward social harmony (Dylan Short, Edmonton Journal, Dec 10/20, Jan 8/21).
Everyone responded with compassion and concern for the two women who were attacked for just being themselves and for their community, many of whom left Somalia to escape violence and other difficulties they didn’t expect to find in Canada. People hope the attacker is brought to justice and means are found to prevent similar attacks in the future. Christians turn these concerns into prayers of faith: Father, heal the women from their physical wounds and their psychological trauma. Provide supports so the community feels safe and is safe. Bring the attacker to justice and even repentance for the harm he’s done. Help us live alongside one another with mutual respect.
I’d like to add a prayer to these more obvious ones: Father, help us pray according to what You see from Your throne room. Below are some key thoughts I’ve had that I’m following up in prayer. Ask God for His perspective and you may discern some keys to help unlock the future of a nation (See Psalm 67).
1. Jesus, You alone are healer; Spirit, You are famous as the Comforter. Reveal who You are to these women. Let Your love set them free from fear and oppression. Give them a testimony of Your healing power that will be the talk of their community.
2. Send ambassadors of reconciliation to them from the Canadian Christian community who show them such pure lovingkindness that the hate directed at them is counteracted and neutralized.
3. Somalis have a unique culture**. They’re a very brave, independent people, proud of Islam and their culture. They are resilient survivors, entrepreneurial and creative. God made them to glorify Him! Redeemer, reveal to the Somalis the power of Jesus’ death on the cross, and may they engage courageously together in the spiritual battle for their people to be set free by the blood of Christ. May their fierce loyalty be redirected toward worshipping Jesus in Spirit and in truth. May their hearts, gifts and talents be offered freely to build Your eternal Kingdom.
4. Lord, raise up courageous, clear-thinking, respectful influencers in the public sphere who can effectively address the efforts of Muslims to strategically use public sympathy for victims of such attacks to gain support for laws that would prevent public examination and critique of Islam.
5. Prince of Peace, restrain the hand of evil that provokes people to act on hatred. Motivate the Church to be intentional about peacemaking where anger and hatred are escalating in our communities (Mt 5:9).
*Media reported about a month after the attack that the women prefer to identify as black, not Somali. Nevertheless, the Somali community has been impacted and have reacted as Somalis. **For this section, I consulted with someone who has many contacts among Somali people.
Image by Ogmentry from Pixabay