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Could a recent rise in suspected hate-fuelled events drive people away from Alberta?

Last Updated Mar 23, 2021 at 9:15 am MDT

CALGARY (660 NEWS) — More hate-filled incidents over the weekend in Alberta, all happening in broad daylight.

It’s a concerning trend for the province, one that has some experts warning Alberta is developing a racist reputation.

And if some people can’t feel safe walking down the street, could it drive them away altogether?

“You know, people are leaving this province for a reason,” said Iman Bukhari, the CEO of the Canadian Cultural Mosaic Foundation. “People don’t want to come to this province, in particular, minority groups won’t want to come as they hear more and more about this.”

RELATED: ‘We’re better than that’: Racist incidents denounced in Calgary

One of the incidents in question was a Muslim girl who was beaten and had her Hijab torn off her head at Prince’s Island Park on Sunday.

Police say the suspect hurled racial slurs at two youth walking through the park, before punching and kicking one of them until others jumped in to help.

WATCH: CityNews’ Crystal Laderas reports on the dangerous reality for Muslim girls and women as officers pursue hate crime charges following the weekend attack.

It’s part of a string of brazen attacks on Muslim women in Alberta – making growing up Muslim a fearful experience for some.

And with growing Islamophobia – some say they’re teaching a generation of girls to be prepared.

“You’re teaching your daughter, that right now, in the past 10 years – it’s always been there but it’s more amplified now, that you’re in a circumstance, what are you gonna do? Where you have a brand new baby in your arms and someone rips off your hijab, what are you going to do?” said Yousra Jomma.

Two men believed to be with the suspect stopped the attack, according to Calgary police.

RELATED: Woman arrested in hate-motivated attack at Prince’s Island Park in Calgary

Police say the victims called 9-1-1 and police charged Bridgette Serverite, 28, with common assault, mischief, and causing a disturbance in public.

“Upon successful conviction in a court of law, the police service, through the Crown’s office, is allowed to bring additional evidence to the judge in relation to our suspicions of why we think it’s hate motivated. And if we prove our case effectively and efficiently then that allows the presiding judge to increase the sentence,” said Craig Collins, the CPS Hate Crimes Coordinator.

These incidents follow five hate-motivated attacks reported in Edmonton within a few months of one another.

All five happening during the day as well, in busy areas such as a mall parking lot, inside LRT stations, and along Whyte Avenue.

WATCH: CityNews’ Carly Robinson reports on charges that were laid against a man following three hate-motivated attacks in Edmonton. 

Victims were Somali-Canadian women wearing Hijabs who were attacked physically and with racial slurs.

“When one has the intent to provoke hate, there is a feeling that ‘You know what? I can get away with it because I’m not coloured,’ and that’s the fear,” Jomha said.

Jomha hopes the hate crime charge goes ahead, but she’s most worried about the victim.

“If I was her and on the ground, with my Hijab off I’m probably humiliated, you take off your Hijab in front of people like your husband, your brother, your uncle, your immediate family,” she said. “You’re kicking me, you’re hurting me, you’re calling me names, enough already, you hurt me. It’s embedded in my body and bones that hurt is not gonna go away I’m going to live with it for the rest of my life.”

These types of incidents are ones that activists say have the rest of the country watching.

RELATED: ‘Racism is a real problem:’ Muslim women fearful following attacks in Edmonton

“To see these incidents happening reinforces that stereotype is somewhat right. That this isn’t a safe place for people who aren’t white settlers,” said Jenny Godley, an associate professor in Sociology at the University of Calgary.

But the City of Calgary says that welcoming people from all over the world is imperative to the success of the city.

“The Alberta government says that all of our growth will come from international immigration going forward, which fundamentally means if we are scaring people off, or people don’t want to come here, we simply won’t be able to grow, and that’s a very serious concern,” said Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi.

Some believe it is imperative that politicians do more than hop on social media to denounce the incidents.

“It’s great the politicians like to go on Twitter and say ‘This is not who we are,’ ‘This is not our province,’ ‘This is not our city,’ ‘This is not our jurisdiction.’ But guess what? It is,” Bukhari said. “It’s been happening for a very long time and it’s just increasing dramatically.”

Bukhari adds that it’s not just politicians who have the power to make change, bystanders have a lot of power to help stop racist incidents before they occur.