An ex Muslim atheist who attacked a mosque in the Toronto area last year with an axe and planned mass casualties has been sentenced to eight years in prison.
Armed with bear spray and an axe, Mohammad Moiz Omar, who hated Islam and Muslims, entered the Dar Al-Tawheed Islamic Centre in Mississauga, where about 30 worshippers were performing fajr prayers, on March 19, 2022.
He was stopped by brave worshippers before he was able to inflict serious harm on congregants.
According to a court agreed statement of facts, Omar “intended to perpetrate a mass casualty event,” and he was inflamed with an intense hatred and desire to intimidate Muslims. He believed Islam is “an intolerant and violent religion.”
On July 19, Omar pleaded guilty to three charges: administrating a noxious substance (bear spray) with the intent to cause bodily harm, assault with a weapon, and mischief to religious property. He also agreed that the attack constituted terrorist activity. He was 24 years old at the time of the attack.
During the July 19 hearing, the mosque’s imam, Ibrahim Hindy, said the attack was horrific.
“This was not someone having a bad day or having a mental health episode,” Hindy told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. “This was someone who planned out clearly what he wanted to do and how he wanted to kill Muslims,” Hindy said. “I’m only grateful that our congregation was able to stop him before he was able to ultimately harm someone.”
Congregants were able to wrestle Omar to the floor. No one was seriously injured, although one person was kicked in the stomach and several were affected by the bear spray.
Damage to the mosque was estimated at $12,140. Omar told police he was a Muslim but was now an atheist.
Omar’s lawyer and the Crown prosecution agreed on an eight-year sentence at the July 19 hearing, and yesterday the judge agreed. With credit for time already served in custody, Omar will be imprisoned for slightly more than five years. He will be eligible for parole in half that time.
Islamophobic attacks in Canada have been a growing concern in recent years. According to a 2019 report by the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), there has been a 151% increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes in Canada since 2015.
Some notable incidents of Islamophobic attacks in Canada include:
- In April this year a 28 year old man, Sharan Karunakaran, was charged with uttering threats, assault with a weapon and dangerous driving after a suspected hate-motivated incident at a mosque in the City of Markham, Canada.
- The Quebec City mosque shooting in January 2017, where six Muslim men were killed and 19 others were injured by a gunman.
- A 2017 incident when a Muslim woman was physically assaulted and had her hijab pulled off by two men in Toronto.
- A 2019 attack on a Muslim family in London, Ontario, where a man intentionally drove his truck into them, killing four members and leaving a nine-year-old boy as the sole survivor.
- A 2021 incident where a man was arrested for threatening to kill Muslim women and children outside a mosque in Edmonton.
These incidents, among many others, have sparked outrage and calls for action to address Islamophobia in Canada.
In response, the Canadian government has taken steps such as introducing an anti-racism strategy and allocating funds to combat hate crimes.
SOURCE: AA and 5PILLARS