Driving the News: Following the murder of Mohamed-Aslim Zafis in front of the International Muslims Organization (IMO) mosque of Toronto near the beginning of the month, the mosque reopened its doors on Friday, September 25. They are also raising money for enhanced security and to offer grief and PTSD counselling for their members.
The Big Picture
- Zafis, 58, was working as a volunteer caretaker at the IMO mosque at the time of his seemingly unprovoked attack, sitting in a chair near the entrance of the mosque to maintain health regulations.
- Toronto police are still investigating the attack, including intent, as advocacy groups called for them to look into the attack as a hate crime.
- The attack occurred Sept. 12, and police arrested a suspect on Sept. 18 who may also potentially help connect their investigation to another stabbing death of a Rampreet (Peter) Singh, 39, whose body was found less than five km from the same mosque.
As the police investigation continues, advocacy groups called for support from the community and government, and several politicians have tweeted about the tragic attack. Evan Balgord, executive director of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, told Global News they had found the suspect’s social media and found affiliations with multiple white supremacist accounts.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed the situation on Twitter, offering condolences and stating the racial motivations are “concerning”.
Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath attended the IMO Mosque reopening, tweeting: “Mohamed-Aslim Zafis dedicated his life to community. Like all of us, he deserved to practice his faith in peace, without fear. Together, we stand against hate & follow his example. I thank IMO for inviting me to share your sorrow & celebrate a beautiful life, lived w/ faith” along with a photo with IMO members.”
- Many attended a vigil for Zafis a week after the attack in front of the IMO mosque, sitting in chairs and socially distancing. Omar Farouk, president of IMO, said the attack will not intimidate their community.
- The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) are calling for the federal government to dismantle the white supremacist groups active in Canada.
- NCCM have a petition for the governments to stand against white supremacist groups.
The Bottom Line: Farouk thanked Toronto PD for their work and reiterated the attack as a hate-motivated crime. “The hate that visited our doors two weeks ago will never be forgotten,” he said, “Our hearts are broken by the violence that killed our brother Mohamed-Aslim Zafis, but we know that he would want us to remember that our love for our faith is greater than any man’s hate.”
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