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‘Hate-Motivated Attack’ at Markham Mosque Provokes Condemnation

Condemnation poured in Sunday in response to what the Islamic Society of Markham (ISM) said was “a hate-motivated attack” at its mosque earlier this week.

In a statement Saturday night ISM said that on the morning of April 6, an individual came to the mosque on Denison Street and upon entering, apparently tore a copy of the Qur’an while directing racist and Islamophobic rants toward worshippers.

“The individual, upon exiting the mosque, then attempted to run over or strike worshippers with his vehicle,” according to the ISM.

“We are deeply troubled by this incident, especially as we near the anniversary of the London Terror Attack, where a family in London was run down in an act of hatred.”

The ISM noted that the attack happened during the holy month of Ramadan, when the mosque was particularly busy.

York Regional Police said a 28-year-old Toronto man is in custody following the attack.

Islamic Society of Markham.
Police responded to a call for a disturbance at a mosque on Denison Street just before 7 a.m. on April 6, 2023. (CBC)

There have been a number of anti-Muslim hate attacks in some Canadians cities in recent years. These include the June 2021 hit-and-run on the Afzaal family in London, Ont.; the fatal stabbing of volunteer caretaker Mohamed-Aslim Zafis outside a Toronto mosque in September 2020; the January 2017 attack on a mosque in Quebec City where six men were killed and dozens of others were seriously wounded; and at least six hate-motivated attacks on Black and racialized Muslim women in Edmonton in recent months.

In April last year worshippers at a mosque in Mississauga, Ont., were attacked with bear spray in what authorities said was a “hate-motivated incident.”

NCCM ‘greatly distressed’ by Markham incident

The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) said in a tweet, “We have been greatly distressed to learn about an apparent violent hate crime at a Markham mosque, where an individual yelled slurs, tore up a Qur’an, and attempted to run down worshippers in his vehicle.”

NCCM is Canada’s largest Muslim advocacy organization, according to its website. The independent, non-profit, non-partisan, grassroots human rights, civil liberties and advocacy organization is headquartered in Ottawa and has offices in the Greater Toronto Area, Montreal, London, Edmonton, and Saskatoon.

Meanwhile, Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti described the incident at ISM as “an act of hatred.”

“The night before this incident I joined other leaders to break fast with the Muslim community,” Scarpitti said in a tweet.

“I thanked them for all their contributions. Markham strongly condemns #Islamophobia & we stand in solidarity with the Markham Muslim community.”

The local member of Parliament, Trade Minister Mary Ng, said she was “deeply disturbed” to learn of the alleged attack.

She tweeted that everyone should feel safe in their place of worship.

Kristyn Wong-Tam, the NDP MPP for Toronto Centre, is among those condemning the attack at the Markham mosque.

“Another day, another hate-motivated attack in Ontario. We’re approaching the anniversary of the London Terror Attack and words are not enough when governments can take real action to keep communities safe and stop Islamophobia,” wrote in a tweet.

Toronto man slapped with 3 charges

York Regional Police said investigators have charged a 28-year-old Toronto man with several criminal offences “after the suspected hate-motivated incident.”

Police responded to a call for a disturbance at the mosque on Denison Street just before 7 a.m. on April 6. 

The suspect was identified and was arrested shortly after midnight on April 7. He has been charged with uttering threats, assault with a weapon, and dangerous driving.

The man was held for a bail hearing and his next scheduled court appearance is on April 11.

Source : CBC