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LaSalle couple wants racist comments investigated as a hate incident

Author of the article: Katherine Wilton, Montreal Gazette Publishing date:
Aug 15, 2022  •  4 hours ago  •  3 minute read
The woman says her daughter asked after the confrontation in the family driveway: "Mommy, are we the wrong colour?"

Nadisha Hosein was reversing out of her driveway in LaSalle last week when she stopped to let a pedestrian pass.
But she says that instead of acknowledging the gesture, the pedestrian became irate and spent the next couple of minutes berating and insulting Hosein and her husband, who are bilingual Montrealers of Indian descent.
“He came over to the driver’s side and said, ‘You people have to learn to keep your car in the driveway or on the street, it’s not supposed to be on the sidewalk.’”
When Hosein’s husband, Pramit Patel, defended his wife, saying in English that she was going to continue to reverse once he had walked past, the man said: “You people have to learn how to speak French, we live in Quebec,” Hosein said in an interview.
Patel, 44, graduated from a French high school and is bilingual, as is Hosein.
When Patel continued to speak in English, the man told him to go home to India or Pakistan.
Hosein said that would be difficult because she is from Châteauguay, and her husband grew up in St-Laurent.
“I was born at the Vic, and he was born at St. Mary’s,” she said.
Hosein said she was stunned by the verbal assault, saying she and her husband have never been verbally abused.
When a neighbour from France tried to calm the man down, he told her to go back home, too, Hosein recalled.
The woman told the man to “get lost, we are at home here.”
Hosein recorded part of the incident on her cellphone from the driver’s seat of her car.
As Hosein left the scene to drive her eight-year-old daughter to a tutoring class, the young girl asked: “Mommy, are we the wrong colour?”
The next morning, the girl asked if she could sleep at a neighbour’s house because “she is white and white families don’t get bothered,” Hosein said.
Hosein asked her friend to call 911 during the incident, but when two police officers viewed the video, they told Patel there was nothing they could do because the man hadn’t uttered any threats.
When Hosein took the video to her local police station in LaSalle the next day, the officer agreed with his colleagues, saying the man had been insulting the couple, but had not made any threats.
In both cases, the couple was told to film the man if he returned to their property and police would try to obtain a restraining order preventing him from coming close to their house.
Although the man’s actions did not meet the threshold of a hate crime, Hosein wonders why police failed to investigate the verbal assault as a hate incident.
According to the Montreal police’s website, a hate incident is a non-criminal act that may affect the sense of safety of a person or an identifiable group of people.
An example of a hate incident would be “racial slurs … directed against an elderly couple taking a stroll in one of the city’s parks,” the SPVM website says.
Alain Babineau, a member of the anti-racist group Red Coalition Inc., said he will help Hosein file a hate incident report.
“This is a racial incident and (the police) have a special unit that deals with hate incidents,” he said.
Hosein said she doesn’t know why the man began attacking her and her husband. However, she wonders whether the adoptions of Bill 96 and Bill 21 (laws that strengthen French and prevent some civil servants from wearing religious symbols at work) has contributed to a backlash against minorities.
A survey released last week showed that religious minorities in Quebec are feeling less safe, less accepted and less hopeful since the province passed its secularism law three years ago.
The survey by Léger and the Association for Canadian Studies revealed that Quebecers who identify as Jewish, Muslim or Sikh report “broad-ranging, disruptive and profound negative impacts” stemming from the 2019 law.
Premier François Legault’s recent remarks disparaging multiculturalism have not helped, Hosein suggested.
“He’s promoting something and there will be certain number of people who follow it,” she said. “This guy is probably one of them.”
Montreal police won’t comment on the incident until they speak to the officers who responded to the 911 call, probably on Tuesday, a police spokesperson said.
kwilton@postmedia.com


 

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