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A revert to Islam, Maria de Morales shares her agony about facing Hate Crimes in Grand Forks, B.C.


AlameenPost spoke to sister Morales who has experienced hate crime incidents in a small town in B.C. Sister Morales said, "She was An American Veteran who has served active duty", Mariah left the military in 1997 and moved to Canada in March 2005 to be close to her family.  

As a Muslim woman anywhere, I have had hatred directed toward me: Racist comments. Maliciously and knowingly being served pork. “All Muslims are terrorists”. These things are not news to the reader. In Grand Forks, British Columbia, a small community of four thousand residents, one particular man has sought me out and harassed me, personally, for four years!

This horror started for me in the Fall of 2015 when a man, a total stranger, ripped off my hijab on a public sidewalk downtown where I was simply going about my shopping. The man said “Go f—king home”, and left on his bicycle. I was alone. No one saw what happened. I ran to a store, where the owner gave me safe haven until my husband could come for me. The shock, and a fear about getting into trouble, stopped me from going to the police at that time. For weeks, I hid in my home. When I finally had to go out, I did not feel safe.

The attack stirred up very strong feelings of powerlessness and pain. This is so much worse for me because I have already had so many serious hurts—traumas—that my doctors told me I have a life-long health condition called Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD is triggered by a terrifying event—either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.1 This condition is part of the after shock for many female veterans of war, and for refugees. In other words, our bodies and minds will always be especially vulnerable to any angry, hateful words or similar violence. Doctors prescribe medical treatment for Complex PTSD: the patient is to avoid stress and to desensitize socially. It is hard work.
For me, the horror in Grand Forks continues. More than once, in other places and times, the same hateful man who first assaulted me (named M.O.) has quickly come up behind me when I am alone, and said, “Allah, Allah, Allah, you f—king Muslim”. I always react with shock. I can barely speak of it.

M.O. still watches, and sits in wait for me, and tries to get me alone; he follows me, and makes up excuses to go where I go. M.O. fits the description discussed in the book Dangerous Personalities written by an FBI profiler, Joe Navarro, where the author shows how to identify such harmful people.

A few other local people are beginning to see this man for what he is, although he pretends that he is so kind and wonderful and benevolent. Sometimes, when these people see him coming, they try to help me to safety, to get me away from M.O. I have been shoved back into washrooms, hidden in offices, and rushed into the rear warehouse of grocery stores. It is always a frightful experience for me and it sets back my recovery from the Complex PTSD. It happens too often.

Once, the produce manager at a grocery store confronted M.O., who denied what he had done, and the next day M.O. made an official complaint to the store’s headquarters, claiming that it was he who had been assaulted. Because the store’s video camera showed him coming up suddenly behind me, and the produce manager only talking to him, the store took no action over this false claim. I’ve learned that abusers try to blame their victims and to convince others, especially authorities, that their victim is crazy. Healthline e-magazine, one of many reliable sources that talk about the impact of mental and emotional abuse, confirms these characteristics of an abuser.

M.O. also approached my therapist to tell her that I was “really crazy”. When the therapist answered him calmly but truthfully, M.O. became hostile, shouting, waving his arms, and speeding away in his car, spraying gravel behind him. Sitting nearby, terrified, I begged a completely unknown man to stay with me. I still shake and cry when I think about M.O.’s attempts to make me out to be crazy.
This pattern of harassment led my therapist and I to the local RCMP Police, who refused to interview me with my therapist beside me for support. Then, the police spoke to M.O., who denied his actions; the police told him to “walk away” when he saw me. The police called it a “He said...She said” situation instead of naming it the Hate Crime that it really is.

To me, the police said that, if I saw M.O., “to go on your merry way”; and, “If M.O. showed up somewhere, get to a safe place”. They don’t seem to understand my pain and suffering and fear, my vulnerability as a Muslim woman. It is no way to live in this land of supposed freedom. I am afraid in my own town. I no longer go to places where he finds me and assaults me.

I can’t enjoy hockey games any more. I dread grocery shopping. Even the all women drop in centre is a place where M.O. makes repeated flimsy excuses to intrude. That leaves nowhere safe. It hurts me deeply.

When people don’t believe him calling me “crazy”, or they ask him to leave, M.O. shouts and, when he eventually leaves, he repeats his behaviour of dangerously throwing gravel behind him with his car.

Recently, I was so concerned for the safety of a child M.O. was interacting with, that I stood up to M.O. He shouted angrily, called me names, waved his arms threateningly. This time there were witnesses. They asked him to leave. I pointed my cellphone camera at M.O. and he tried to hide, then left the scene, again spraying gravel with his car and damaging other cars; luckily, no children were hurt.. He went straight to the police to try to make them believe that I am crazy. I worry, do the police believe him? They don’t make it stop.

I am puzzled and pained by the information that RCMP Constable T.B. gave me when I asked for a “peace bond”, which involves the police conducting an investigation, and where a crown counsel lawyer is appointed. Constable T.B. said I should file for a “civil restraining order” instead, which is different. It would take a costly lawyer to explain, but, in BC, to apply for a restraining order, you must have a family connection with the person2. Which is not the case with M.O. My understanding is that civil restraining order is to establish boundaries around safety of spouses and children, and less serious matters. It is specific to BC. Again, this has nothing to do with the Hate Crime against me by M.O. A peace bond is  a protection order made by a court under section 810 of the Criminal Code. It is intended to prevent one person from harming another...Breaking a peace bond is a crime.3 It is Canada wide.

I am a victim of a Hate Crime by a man who keeps getting away with it. I know that I am not the only Muslim woman who this has happened to. Many Muslim women are too afraid, too traumatized, too intimidated by language and other barriers to speak out. I am doing everything I can to make it stop, and I feel re-victimized by the system which is supposed to help me.

Is there any place safe for me now?
1 Mayo
2 – an online resource for victims and witnesses of crime in BC