Markham mosque attack: Man arrested, charged over hate crime, police say

A mosque on Denison Street in the city of Markham where the incident took place. —CBC

TORONTO: Canadian police arrested and charged a male suspect after what they called a “hate-motivated incident” at a mosque in the province of Ontario on Thursday in which he allegedly drove toward a worshipper and yelled threats and religious slurs, police said on Sunday.

The incident took place in the city of Markham while the suspect, 28-year-old Sharan Karunakaran, was later arrested in Toronto, the York Regional Police said in a statement.

Canadian Trade Minister Mary Ng condemned the incident and called it a hate crime, saying it had no place in Canadian society.

The Islamic Society of Markham (ISM) said an individual had entered the mosque in Markham, 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) north of Toronto, on Thursday and apparently tore a copy of the Holy Quran and ranted at worshippers. However, the police statement released on Sunday did not mention this.

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

“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 incident comes during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, when worshippers throng to mosques. Thousands of people attend the mosque at Markham.

Police added they charged the suspect with uttering threats, assault with a weapon and dangerous driving. His next scheduled appearance will be at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Newmarket on Tuesday.

“This violence and Islamophobia has no place in our communities,” the Canadian trade minister, who is a local member of parliament, said in a reaction to the incident.

NCCM ‘greatly distressed’ by 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 Holy Qur’an, and attempted to run down worshippers in his vehicle.”

NCCM is Canada’s largest Muslim advocacy organisation, 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.

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