There has been an apparent rise in anti-Muslim incidents in Canada following the terrorist attacks in Paris that killed at least 129 people.
BuzzFeed Canada has compiled reports of intimidation, vandalism, and violence against members of the Canadian Muslim community since the attacks.
1. Arson attack on the only mosque in Peterborough, Ontario
A day after the attacks in Paris, the Masjid Al-Salaam mosque in Peterborough was deliberately set on fire in what police are investigating as a possible hate crime.
The fire started around 11 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 14. Although nobody was inside at the time, members of the Kawartha Muslim Religious Association had been celebrating the birth of a baby there less than an hour earlier.
The fire caused an estimated $80,000 in damage. An online fundraising campaign to help pay for repairs to the damaged Peterborough mosque raised more than $110,000 in less than a week. The KMRA has said it only plans to use the required funds for repairs, and to donate any additional funds to charity.
According to CBC News, there has been one previous attack on a KMRA mosque since the organization’s founding in 1994, when a previous mosque building’s windows were smashed after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
2. Threats to kill “one Arab a week” in Quebec
Montreal police arrested and charged 24-year-old Jesse Pelletier on Nov. 18 in connection with a YouTube video that showed someone in a Joker mask threatening to kill Quebec Muslims.
“As of next week, there will be murders all across Quebec,” the masked man said in what VICE News described as a Quebecois-sounding accent. “We will eliminate all of them, one by one. Islam has harmed us enough.”
The masked man, brandishing what appeared to be a handgun, said he had recruited others in his mission and promised to “fire a bullet in the head of one Arab per week” as response to what had happened in Paris.
Pelletier was charged with uttering threats, inciting hatred against an identifiable group, causing fear among members of the Muslim community, and using a fake firearm. His lawyer told reporters after his court appearance that it had been a joke and that her client “did not mean anything in the video.”
3. Assaults on hijab-wearing women
A Muslim woman was assaulted in Toronto’s Flemingdon Park neighbourhood on Nov. 16 as she waited to pick up her children from school.
The woman, who has not been publicly identified, said she was attacked from behind by two men who pulled on her hijab and repeatedly punched her in the head and in the stomach. They reportedly called her a “terrorist” and told her to “go back to your country” before robbing her of some cash and her phone.
The woman’s brother told reporters the assault had left her traumatized. Police have not yet apprehended the suspects, but they are treating it as a hate crime.
Elsewhere in Toronto, two hijab-wearing women were harassed while riding the subway on Nov. 19. Three people reportedly accused the women of being terrorists and one of them was pushed. A witness pulled the emergency alarm on the train but the assailants managed to escape before security showed up.
Finally, a Toronto woman told BuzzFeed Canada that she was assaulted by a stranger on Nov. 17 while walking home from a friend’s house. Kayla Gerber said she was bundled up with a winter scarf over her head to keep her warm, and a man pushed her against a wall and told her to take off her hijab and “get the fuck out of the country!” Gerber, who is not Muslim and does not wear a hijab, said the man ran off after other pedestrians started to notice the altercation.
4. Threatening messages
An Ottawa woman said she got a threatening note that told her “Canada is no place for immigrants or terrorists.” Eren Cervantes-Altamirano told BuzzFeed Canada the note showed up in her mailbox on Nov. 18.
Originally from Mexico, Cervantes-Altamirano is a Muslim convert and “one of the very few visible minorities” in her area of Ottawa. “I don’t wear hijab but I’m still obviously a visible minority,” she said.
An anti-Muslim message was also found inside an apartment building this week in Toronto, near where the Muslim mother was assaulted while waiting for her children at their school. The words “Muslims go home!!! We do not what you here!” were scrawled on a wall inside the building, Global News reported.
On the same day as two Muslim women were harassed on Toronto transit, an anti-Muslim message was also found on a GO Transit regional train in the city.
5. Houses of worship targeted
The Centre Islamique de l’Est de Montreal, which is run by controversial preacher Adil Charkaoui, was vandalized shortly after the terrorist attacks in Paris when something was thrown through the mosque’s windows.
The Montreal police are “looking into it as it possibly being a hate crime due to the nature of the place,” a police spokesperson told CBC News.
Another mosque, in Calgary, was broken into Nov. 16 while the congregation attended a vigil for the victims of the Paris attacks. Computers and some cash were taken from the Al Madinah Calgary Islamic Assembly, but police described it merely as a “crime of opportunity” and do not have any reason to investigate it as a hate crime.
A Hindu temple in Kitchener, Ontario, was also vandalized in the days after the Paris attacks. Five rocks were thrown through the windows of the Ram Dham Hindu Temple late on Nov. 15. It’s not clear whether the vandalism was a mistaken attempt to target Muslims, but several mosques in the GTA are nevertheless raising funds to help repair the temple.