Wed 14 October 2020:
A Toronto mosque remained closed on Monday night after it received several violent and offensive threats by email early Saturday. Toronto police are investigating.
On Twitter, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was “deeply disturbed” by the news, while Toronto Mayor John Tory said the threats are “completely unacceptable” and he stands with the Muslim community.
I’m deeply disturbed by this threat. Islamophobia and hate have no place in our country, and this kind of behavior and language will not be tolerated. We must do more to counter hatred and we will. https://t.co/qAV0xYbkJ7
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) October 12, 2020
Mustafa Farooq, chief executive officer of the NCCM, said the mosque will not be named because of the fear it would unleash more threats.
“These (email) messages were extraordinarily violent,” he said. “When we get these threats, we don’t take them lightly. And that’s why the mosque was shut down and remains shut down.”
Toronto Mayor John Tory called the threats “completely unacceptable” and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was “deeply disturbed” by the incident.
Today, I was made aware of death threats and xenophobic comments made towards a Mosque in our City over the Thanksgiving weekend. Here is my statement. pic.twitter.com/P4fNEWQARY
— John Tory (@JohnTory) October 12, 2020
“These messages were extraordinarily violent,” Farooq said in an interview from Ottawa. “When we get these threats, we don’t take them lightly. And that’s why the mosque was shut down and remains shut down.”
Mustafa Farooq, chief executive officer of the NCCM.
Farooq said the council has spoken to the imams at the downtown mosque.
“Obviously, there’s a lot of fear. There is a lot of concern. There’s a lot of trepidation as to what happened. Why is this happening? What’s going to happen next?” he said.
Farooq said he is pleased that police are investigating the threats, but said the federal government must take action and the council would like to see a plan within weeks.
Action is needed to ensure “we don’t have to keep having these interviews, so that we don’t continue to keep having to go to funeral after funeral, to respond to threats after threats,” he said.
“This is unacceptable. It needs to stop and the way that needs to stop is through a national action plan to dismantle these kinds of white supremacist, neo-Nazi, violent, Islamophobic or xenophobic groups,” Farooq said.
“I won’t allow someone who was trying to terrorize us and intimidate us succeed. We’re going to stand up as Canadians. We’re going to stand up Canadian Muslims. And I know that so many communities are standing with us,” he said.
In an open letter to Trudeau, dated Oct. 5, the council urged the government to take action on white supremacist groups. The letter was signed by organizations that represent Jewish, Sikh, Black and Indigenous communities in Toronto, among others, Farooq noted.
Mosque administrators, based on advice from various experts, have closed the mosque for now, he said. It is not known for how long it will be closed.
The threats come a month after a fatal stabbing of a volunteer caretaker at an Etobicoke mosque. On Sept. 12, Mohamed-Aslim Zafis, 58, was stabbed once while he sat in a chair outside the front doors of the International Muslims Organization (IMO) mosque at 65 Rexdale Blvd., near Kipling Avenue.
Zafis had been controlling access to the mosque to ensure it was complying with public health regulations. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Guilherme “William” Von Neutegem, 34, has been charged with first-degree murder in connection with the killing of Zafis. Von Neutegem appears to follow a hate group founded in the U.K., according to the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, a non-profit organization.