Nadisha Hosein is wondering what do do to make her daughter feel safe.
“She’s eight years old. She said, ‘mommy are we the wrong colour?’”
This was last Thursday afternoon following an incident she said happened outside her home in the Montreal borough of LaSalle.
“I was reversing out of the driveway and I saw the man coming down the street so I said ‘I’ll stop the car,’” she explained.
The mother of two said her eight-year-old daughter was with her.
According to Hosein, at some point the man started berating her and her husband, who was standing outside on the passenger side, for not speaking French, and telling them to go home.
In the video the man can be heard saying in French, “your home is India. India or Pakistan.”
Hosein said both her and her husband, though of South Asian heritage, were born in Montreal and do speak French. They are thankful that those living nearby came to help.
“My neighbour came outside trying to reason with him, and he said, ‘you, you’re from France, go back to France,” Hosein recalls.
That neighbour, Caroline Vinchon, told Global News that she felt compelled to defend Hosein and her husband.
“You cannot insult a person because of her colour or her origin,” she stated. “It’s not fair, it’s not right.”
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Hosein filed a report with police who say it’s been referred to their hate crimes unit.
“When a file is referred to the Hate Incidents and Crimes Module (MICH), investigators will analyze the file to determine if a crime has been committed,” spokesperson Caroline Labelle wrote in an email.
“If this is not the case and it is more of a hate incident, awareness and prevention actions will be undertaken with the person behind the incident. A follow-up will also be done with the complainant.”
However according to criminal lawyer Philip Schneider, based on Hosein’s video, the man did not break the law.
He explained that she and her husband were protected by the car, and even though he insulted them, “that does not constitute an assault.”
Schneider said: “If there had been no vehicle between them and he approached the (husband), he would’ve had reasonable grounds to believe that this gentleman was a threat to him, and that he could be assaulted, then the gentleman would’ve been guilty of criminal assault.”
Schneider also explained that the incident in the video doesn’t satisfy the criteria for hate crime.
“In the question of hate propaganda or hate crime or promoting hatred, as a general rule, the person in question whom you want to accuse of this in a court in formal charge,” he explained, “has to have made comments to promote hatred against an identifiable group.”
“(The man) is lucky that nobody identified the group (in the video) and you couldn’t see who he was talking to.”
Even if investigators were to follow up, Schneider pointed out, the man would be under no obligation to speak to them.
Police in Montreal explain the difference between a hate crime and a hate incident on their website.
For now Hosein is focusing on getting help for her daughter who she said is afraid to leave the house.
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