A man has been charged after allegedly attempting to run over at least one worshiper after yelling threats and religious slurs at a mosque near Toronto last week.
The incident, which is now under investigation as a hate crime, occurred at the Islamic Society of Markham (ISM), some 30 kilometers (approximately 18.6 miles) north of the Ontario capital on April 6.
It all started when the man entered the mosque on Denison Street and tore a copy of the Qur’an while hurling racist and Islamophobic remarks toward worshippers, according to ISM. He then exited the mosque and allegedly drove his vehicle toward them.
“The individual, upon exiting the mosque, then attempted to run over or strike worshippers with his vehicle,” ISM said, as per CBC News. “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 came as Muslims all over the world observe Ramadan, a holy month dedicated to fasting, prayer and community.
The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), the country’s largest pro-Muslim organization, said they were “greatly distressed” over the attack and called for unity and action.
“This is a time for unity and action. Our places of worship are sacred. So is our right to worship. It’s time to stop hate that threatens us all,” NCCM tweeted to supporters.
Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti also condemned the incident, describing it as “an act of hatred.” Meanwhile, local Member of Parliament and Canadian Trade Minister Mary Ng outright called it a “hate crime.”
Shortly after midnight on Friday, York Regional Police arrested Sharan Karunakaran, 28, in connection with the incident.
They located him in Toronto, where he is a resident.
Karunakaran was charged with uttering threats, dangerous driving and assault with a weapon. He is scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday, April 11.
Investigation into the case continues and police are encouraging other potential victims to come forward. Anyone with information is asked to contact the #5 District Criminal Investigations Bureau at 1-866-876-5423, ext. 7541, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or leave an anonymous tip online at www.1800222tips.com.
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