Toronto police need to do more to protect Muslim communities after several recent attacks on mosques that are not being investigated as hate crimes, Islamic organizations say.
Masjid Toronto in the city’s downtown has been the site of six attacks in the past three months, three attacks each at two mosques.
These attacks have included break-ins, broken windows and racist graffiti on windows and walls. On Monday, someone broke one of the mosque’s windows.
The windows had just been fixed, and now will be repaired for the third time in three weeks, the Muslim Association of Canada (MAC) said in a statement posted to its website.
“These incidents are now occurring at a frightening rate and we cannot accept to wait any longer for police action,” the organization said.
The MAC is calling for authorities to “step up” to offer the necessary protection right now, adding that the attacks are meant to intimidate the Muslim community at one of Toronto’s most-visited mosques.
Toronto police spokesperson Jenifferjit Sidhu confirmed police are aware of four reports of mischief at two Toronto mosques since the beginning of June. All have been investigated and none are believed to be hate motivated, she said.
Another spokesperson later said there are six investigations ongoing that could change “dependent on where evidence takes us.” Two arrests have been made, and the hate crime unit is aware of the incidents, media relations manager Connie Osborne said.
“... we have not yet been given any indication about what's going to be done to securitize and to protect this mosque ...”
Sidhu said a man was arrested for an incident on July 29 in which he allegedly threw a brick through one of the mosque’s windows. While the MAC says it filed a police report for the most recent incident, Toronto Police says it didn’t receive one.
Mustafa Farooq, the CEO of the National Council of Canadian Muslims, told HuffPost Canada the police’s process of investigating the attacks “doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.”
He said the current understanding is that police ruled out a hate crime days after the first suspect was identified, which is “problematic.”
“Most importantly, these attacks keep happening, and we have not yet been given any indication about what’s going to be done to securitize and to protect this mosque from continuing to face attacks,” Farooq said.
The role of police in society and their relationship to marginalized communities has spurred renewed questions after several recent high-profile police killings and police-involved deaths of Black, Indigenous and racialized Canadians and Americans.
Farooq said over-policing, such as police being violent toward racialized communities, and under-policing are “similar sides of the same coin.”
“When racialized communities raise concerns around how police, in general, use violence and coercive methods inappropriately motivated by racial animus or implicit biases, there’s a discursive connection to that and under-policing, where police agencies are less concerned around racialized communities and their protection,” he said.
“I’m not saying that the Toronto Police Services cares less about Masjid Toronto. But what I’m saying is that the current approach is insufficient — dramatically insufficient.”
He said he wants to see a clear plan from police to provide protection and ultimately stop the attacks.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Tuesday that there will be justice following the attacks.
“There’s no place for these disgusting actions and behaviour,” Ford said in a tweet. “We will find who’s responsible and get justice for all those affected.”
Kristyn Wong-Tam, the councillor who represents Toronto Centre, said in a statement that she was angered and saddened to hear of the most recent incident at Masjid Toronto.
“As our communities grapple with the uncertainty of a global pandemic, and expose the deep roots of systemic racism, we must stand together under a unified message of inclusion and justice,” she said.
Earlier on HuffPost: