Canada: 2 Muslim women report alleged hate crime involving gun threat in Kitchener
By Firdevs Bulut Kartal
TORONTO (AA): Two Muslim women, a mother and daughter, reported an alleged hate crime that took place in Kitchener, a city in Canada’s Ontario province on Wednesday morning.
According to a report by CTV News, the women said a stranger followed them with his car after morning prayers at the mosque and pointed a gun at them.
“We rolled down the window, he rolled down his, then we just saw him pull out his phone and point it at us and we were like, okay that’s weird. And suddenly, in the other hand, he pulled out a gun and pointed it at us,” the daughter told CTV News.
The women were unharmed, but they were left in fear and shaken by the incident. The woman drove away, but the man allegedly followed them for some time.
She said the incident makes her feel unsafe at her own mosque — but it won’t stop her from going.
“There’s this Muslim belief, ‘what’s written for you is written for you’. So you just keep living your life knowing that it could end at any time,” she told CBC.
The Kitchener Masjid’s Imam Mohamed Bendame said he was surprised and worried to hear what had happened to members of his congregation.
“We do have security cameras installed around the place and we also hire a security guy,” he told the CBC. “After what happened [Wednesday] morning, I think we’re probably going to have to make sure that we have security every day, every night because you just don’t know what’s going to happen.”
The suspect is described as a 20-year-old white man wearing a dark hoodie and a face mask, as reported by Waterloo Regional Police.
The police department tweeted, “Continuing to investigate a report of a weapons incident in the area of Franklin Street North and Ottawa Street North in Kitchener. Anyone with information is asked to contact police or @WaterlooCrime.”
According to CBC, local police have not yet said whether the incident is being considered a hate crime, but they did confirm that investigators are working in collaboration with The Waterloo Regional Police Service (WRPS)’ Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Unit.
The women reported experiencing the incident after leaving the mosque, and they believe it was hate-motivated.
Earlier on April 10, a man was apprehended pending trial for hate crime after he rammed his car into a Muslim person in Toronto.
The incident took place in the parking lot of the Markham Islamic Society Mosque, the oldest and largest mosque in the region, during the early morning prayer, according to a statement from York Regional Police.
The suspect was identified as 28-year-old Sharan Karunakaran.
“Investigators with the York Regional Police #5 District Criminal Investigations Bureau have charged a suspect with several criminal offences after a suspected hate-motivated incident at a mosque in the City of Markham,” the police said in the statement.
“Witnesses reported that a male suspect had attended in a vehicle and drove directly at one of the worshippers and yelled threats and religious slurs. The suspect drove dangerously in the parking lot before leaving the property,” the officials from the York police also added in the statement.”
In the statement, the Markham Islamic Society said before the attack, Karunakaran entered the mosque hurled curses at the congregation and tore a copy of the Quran to pieces.
“After leaving the mosque, the person drove his vehicle onto those who were leaving the prayer. We are very disturbed by this incident. Especially as the anniversary of the vehicle terrorist attack in the city of London in 2021, in which a family of four died, draws closer,” the society said in a statement.
Additional reporting by The Muslim News
[Photo: Nadia Hasan (C) chief operating officer of the National Council of Canadian Muslims speaks during a press conference at Markham Islamic Society Mosque in Markham, north of Toronto, Ontario, Canada on April 10, 2023. A man was apprehended by Canadian police after he rammed his car into a Muslim person in Toronto, officials said Sunday. The attacker has been detained pending trial for hate crime. Photojournalist: Mert Alper Dervis/AA]
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