UPDATE: Hate charges filed and suspect ID’d after racist incident at Hamilton mosque

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Published June 17, 2024 at 2:33 pm

hamilton downtown mosque school

The man accused of causing a racist disturbance at a Hamilton mosque has been formally charged with hate crimes.

A man entered a mosque shortly before 1 p.m. on June 14, according to Hamilton Police. While police did not confirm the exact location of the mosque, the Hamilton Downtown Mosque at 221 York Boulevard later confirmed the incident occurred there.

Investigators did not confirm much detail citing conflicting reports of what happened. However, the mosque itself claims an unidentified man entered the building amid a third-grade gym class.

Police later confirmed the man entered through an unsecured door and entered a classroom with students and a teacher. They described his comments as “hate-related.”

The mosque alleged the man made “racist and threatening” comments toward teachers and students. They also claim he brought a copy of the Clear Quran, an English translation of the Islamic holy book, and tore it in half.

The mosque said they asked the man to leave, but he refused. As a result, responding officers removed him from the premises. At the time, police said it was too early to know the depth of the charges he would face if any. However, they later reviewed video evidence and witness statements which indicated grounds for charges.

As a result Wayne Voorthuyzen, 57 of Hamilton, is charged with criminal harassment. Based on his statements and actions, his charged are classified as a hate crime.

“Hamilton Police Service stands with and supports the Muslim community in denouncing Islamophobia. Incidents of this nature create fear and question the sense of belonging for diverse communities,” police continued, “We appreciate the impact this incident had on the community, especially those directly involved in the incident.”

“We appreciate the priority Hamilton Police is giving this matter as we collaborate to ensure the safety of our community members,” the mosque board of directors wrote.

“The actions of the intruder are unacceptable and threaten the safety of our children,” they continued. The board pledged to “take all precautionary measures” to protect students and worshippers.

The National Coalition of Canadian Muslims also weighed in saying, ”

“This is completely outrageous and unacceptable,” said the NCCM, “We expect every political leader to raise their voice in solidarity and a commitment to take action – now, before more folks get hurt.”

This week is among the holiest in Islam as Eid-al-Adha, the “festival of sacrifice” marks Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son, Ishmael. It also represents the end of the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca and one of the Five Pillars of Islam all Muslims must undertake.

The incident also comes amid a rash of Islamophobic incidents across Ontario, including an attempted arson in London the week before. Investigators believe the family home was targeted due to their vocal support of Palestine amid the ongoing Israeli siege of Gaza.

The arson came shortly after the anniversary of the deaths of four members of the Afzaal family, who a white supremacist intentionally ran down with a pick-up truck on June 6, 2021. Their attacker, Nathaniel Veltman, then 20, was later convicted of terrorism charges in the first case of its kind in Canada.

 

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