Peel police are investigating incidents at Mississauga area mosques as possibly “hate-motivated.”
Peel community leaders and elected representatives held a press conference this afternoon to condemn the recent actions of a known Islamophobe who recently went to three local area mosques to rip up copies of the Quran and make hateful statements that were shared on Facebook.
“I am disgusted and disturbed by these actions that have happened in our city. I stand with our Muslim community, and with communities of all faiths,” said Mayor Bonnie Crombie at the press conference.
“We have no tolerance for any intolerance in our city. We will come together, and we will emerge stronger than ever. I want everyone in Mississauga to feel safe to practice their religion, despite what it is they practice. We want people in Mississauga to feel safe in their homes, as well as the places where they worship and we will continue to ensure that our residents feel safe and accepted in our city.”
The Muslim Council of Peel says that on Thursday, March 22 at about 5:20 p.m. a woman named Sandra Solomon visited Masjid Dar-Al Tawheed in Mississauga, ripped up pages of the Qur’an and placed them on the windshields of vehicles parked at the mosque.
”In addition, she left hateful literature on cars as well,” said the Council. “She then proceeded inside the mosque and verbally abused congregants, after which she was asked to leave.”
The Council says that similar incidents took place at two other mosques in Peel Region as well.
A now-deleted livestream of the incident was posted to the Facebook group “Never Again Canada.”
In the video, a woman is seen ripping pages of the Qur’an—which she calls a “satanic evil book”–and placing them on the windshields of several vehicles in the parking lot.
The woman then makes her way into the mosque, verbally abused congregants and tries to meet with the Imam. While waiting, she looks through a series of books that she calls “all garbage.”
“To have a known Islamophobe come into our neighbourhoods, onto our property, with the sole purpose of promoting hatred – all while attempting to profit from it through fundraising and the online ads associated with the platforms that host this vile material – is deeply distressing,” said Ibrahim Hindy, Imam of Masjid Dar-al Tawheed, whose mosque was targeted.
“We shouldn’t have to fear coming into our mosques – safe spaces where we peacefully gather to pray, learn, and promote good character. I’m saddened by this latest incident – yet remain hopeful because this woman’s hatred is vastly overshadowed by the love we have already received from our fellow Peel residents, and from fellow Canadians. Hatred is as old as humanity itself – and love will always win,” added Hindy.
Rabia Khedr, Executive Director of the Muslim Council of Peel, said that the community is calling for three key items – higher level of police presence around mosques and better communication with community members; stronger laws around the promotion of online hate; and a commitment that the perpetrator of these acts will not be able to continue to do this at other locations.
“First and foremost, our expectation is that Peel police services will do all it can to prevent further incidents like these from occurring,” said Khedr.
“In her video, she has stated that she will be visiting more mosques and we want that to be stopped,” said Khedr. “We believe her behaviour may warrant criminal prosecution and we welcome the police’s investigation.”
The Federal Minister Navdeep Bains, who represents Mississauga-Malton, joined Mayor Crombie at the news conference.
“Islamophobia is real,” said Minister Bains. “We cannot and should not take our rights and freedoms for granted. Freedom, equality, inclusion- these that are core Canadian values. They represent who we are and represent the underpinnings of our society which is our diversity. And our diversity is our strength. I want to make sure that my daughters, who live in Mississauga, can live in a society where they can practice their faith, where others can practice their faith, and where this type of hate-motivated behaviour does not exist.”
“Islamophobia is the flipside of anti-Semitism. We Jews have sadly all too much experience with hatred. We get it. We know what it feels like, we know its bitter taste, and we know it must be halted in its tracks,” said Bernie Farber, former CEO Canadian Jewish Congress. “Action must be taken and it must be taken now.”
“Those most affected by these incidents are our children who are wondering: can we live here without fear? Can we live here freely?” said Balpreet Singh, Legal Counsel, World Sikh Organization. “As Sikhs we are all too familiar with these types of incidents of hatred that we’ve seen at our schools and places of worship as well.
“We call on the Peel Police to investigate these incidents thoroughly and make sure they cannot happen again,” said Singh.