‘Ottawa’ ‘I have no idea who could have done Something Like this’: Arson Attempt Suspected at Toronto Islamic Centre
A suspected arson attempt at a Toronto Islamic centre came as a surprise to the administrator, who said the mosque had never had any troubles in the past.
“Honestly, I have no idea who could have done something like this but if it was intentional and a hate crime then this is unacceptable,” Muneeb Aden said Wednesday.
Fire officials were called to the Reign of Islamic Da’wah Islamic Information Centre at about 11 p.m. Tuesday. The damage was minor — a small circular burn on the roof.
But a gas canister was found prompting an investigation. “It is being investigated as an arson but we don’t have anyone in custody,” said Const. Craig Brister, a Toronto police spokesman.
The incident comes amid a divisive debate over the Liberal government’s anti-Islamophobia motion and follows the Jan. 29 attack at a Quebec City mosque that left six worshippers dead.
But police are not yet calling it a hate crime. “We are open to that idea,” said Toronto police Const. Victor Kwong, but he said at this point there was no indication of that.
Police were investigating whether the mosque fire was connected to an arson at a nearby massage parlor around the same time. A Masonic Temple in the area was also targeted on Tuesday and a 36-year-old, Michael Mendez, was charged.
But Const. Kwong said Mendez was arrested at around 7:30 p.m. Tuesday so was not a suspect in the mosque fire. “He was in custody so he was definitely not involved in the next series of fires.”
Aden said the conservative mosque, which he said serves about 100 people daily from the Somali, Albanian and Afghan communities, among others, was on good terms with its neighbors.
“Currently we are waiting for the police investigation, for them to complete it, and we cannot comment on the intent right now,” the administrator said.
He said the mosque was “at the forefront of refuting and clarifying the misconception put on Islam and the Muslims at this time. And we are at the forefront of warning against the dangers of extremism and terrorism.”
He showed reporters pamphlets displayed inside the front door, including one that advised anyone who had information about a planned act of terrorism to inform the police.