Six attacks against mosques in Toronto have occurred over the last three months but the police refuse to call them hate crimes.
One mosque, Masjid Toronto “found its window broken for the third time in three weeks, making the incident - along with vandalism to another MAC mosque also located downtown - the sixth time local mosques have been attacked in three months.”
Toronto is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world where people of all faiths and all ethnicities live and interact in relative harmony.
The only exception seems to be acceptance of Muslims who are viewed with suspicion and subjected to frequent attacks.
Speaking to Al Jazeera, Mariam Manaa, MAC public relations manager, voiced her concern that repeated attacks against mosques are being investigated as mischief and vandalism, instead of a hate-crime.
As reported by CBC on August 19, “Const. Michelle Flannery said there are six investigations underway and that two arrests have been made so far. ‘Our Hate Crime Unit has been made aware of the incidents and continue to support the investigations as needed’.”
If similar attacks had occurred against places of worship of other faith communities, the reaction would be very different.
They would be investigated as hate crimes and given far more media coverage than has been the case with attacks on the two mosques.
People familiar with Toronto’s landscape may find it odd that the attacks against the mosques took place in the downtown area.
Toronto is known for its left-leaning, generally liberal attitude toward various societal matters, including religion.
However, negative attitude toward Muslims and Islam appears to transcend the left-right divide.
There has been a spate of attacks against mosques in different parts of Canada.
In December 2015, a mosque in Peterborough was fire-bombed and almost completely destroyed.
On January 29, 2017, the Islamic Center of Quebec City was attacked by a white supremacist who murdered six Muslims while they were offering night prayers.
Nineteen others were injured yet the murderer, Alexandre Bissonnette, was not charged with terrorism, only with six counts of first-degree murder.
Masjid Toronto, in the heart of the city close to the Gray Hound Bus Station has been subjected to frequent attacks.
Last year, in the aftermath of the Christ Church, New Zealand mosque attacks, pro-Israeli groups led by the Jewish Defence League (JDL) and white supremacists made common cause to demonstrate outside Masjid Toronto.
JDL is a violent extremist group. It is banned both in Israel and the US yet it continues to freely operate in Canada.
The Southern Poverty Law Center says JDL “has orchestrated countless terrorist attacks in the US and abroad, and has engaged in intense harassment of foreign diplomats, Muslims, Jewish scholars and community leaders, and officials.”
Unfortunately, vilification of Muslims and Islam is an accepted theme in mainstream political discourse in all Western countries.
While in Canada vilification of Islam is not as blatant as in countries like Austria or Hungary, the default societal assumption on Muslims and Islam in Canada is negative.
People hating Muslims and seeing Islam as a threat did not just wake up one morning and decided to hate Muslims.
This attitude has been cultivated by the mainstream Western media worldwide.
Attacks on Toronto City mosques and the police reaction to them is reflective of the general anti-Muslim sentiment prevalent in society.