THE National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) on Sunday expressed its anguish over “a highly distressing apparent hate crime that recently took place” at the Islamic Society of Markham.
It said in a statement: “On or about the morning of April 6, an individual came to the Islamic Society of Markham (ISM), one of the oldest and largest Muslim institutions in Markham. Thousands of congregants attend the ISM, and the centre is much busier because of the sacred month of Ramadan.
“The individual brought his car to the mosque. Upon entering the mosque, he committed a number of Islamophobic acts, including a racist and Islamophobic rant directed towards the worshippers. The individual, upon exiting the mosque, then attempted to run over or strike worshippers with his vehicle.
“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.
“We appreciate the support of the York Regional Police, who moved swiftly to make sure our congregation was safe, and to our understanding have arrested and charged this individual. We further urge YRP to continue investigating this issue as a potentially hate-motivated crime.
“We know that our congregation is a strong and loving community. Our security and logistics team have taken additional steps to keep worshippers safe in the next days of Ramadan.”
The NCCM said it will be hosting a press conference at the ISM on Monday to provide further information.
MEANWHILE, Ontario’s York Regional Police announced on Sunday that Sharan Karunakaran, 28, on Toronto, had been arrested after a suspected hate-motivated incident at a mosque in the City of Markham. He was charged with uttering threats, assault with a weapon, and dangerous driving.
Karunakaran was held for a bail hearing. His next scheduled appearance is at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in the Town of Newmarket on April 11.Investigators are concerned there may be other victims and police encourage them to come forward.
Police said that on Thursday, April 6 at 6:55 a.m., York Regional Police responded to a call for a disturbance at a mosque on Denison Street. 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.
Members of the #5 District Criminal Investigations Bureau were notified and worked cooperatively with the Intelligence Unit and Hate Crime Unit to identify the suspect.
Members of the Hate Crime Unit attended the mosque to offer support to its members.
The suspect was identified and a warrant for his arrest was issued while efforts were made to locate him. Shortly after midnight, on April 7, members of York Regional Police arrested the suspect in Toronto.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the #5 District Criminal Investigations Bureau at 1-866-876-5423, ext. 7541, or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS, or leave an anonymous tip online at www.1800222tips.com.