The woman who appears in an online video ripping up pages of a Qur’an at a Mississauga mosque is defending her right to visit the mosque, calling it part of her “international campaign to designate [the] Qur’an as hate literature.”
In a telephone interview with CityNews, Sandra Solomon said “I don’t hate Muslims, I’m an ex-Muslim. I’m just trying to educate people about the ideology itself [of] Islam.” “I did not do anything against the law and once they asked me to leave, I just left.”
The Muslim Council of Peel said the Dar Al-Tawheed Islamic Centre was the target of hate speech on Thursday. Solomon is seen in a video ripping out pages of a Qur’an, and placing the pages on the windshields of worshippers’ vehicles. She then goes inside the mosque and is seen in the video confronting worshippers.
The incident was live streamed on the Never Again Canada Facebook page on Thursday, but has since been pulled down. Someone was able to record it and provided the video to the Muslim Council of Peel anonymously.
Mayor “disgusted and disturbed”
The mayor of Mississauga says she is “disgusted and disturbed” by the incident.
“I am disgusted and disturbed by these hate-filled actions that have occurred in our city,” Bonnie Crombie said at a news conference at Mississauga City Hall on Monday.
“We have no tolerance for any intolerance in our city,” she said, adding that she stands in solidarity with all faiths in condemning these incidents.
In the incident at Dar Al-Tawheed Islamic Centre, the Muslim Council of Peel said community members and mosque staff asked Solomon to leave, and police were called shortly after.
According to the council, Peel police visited the mosque and obtained surveillance video evidence of the incident and are currently pursuing “an investigation.”
The council says similar incidents were also reported at two other mosques.
“Shortly after, Solomon visited two other mosques in the hopes of doing the same thing. Both mosques are currently working with the police,” the council said in a release.
Police told CityNews its criminal investigation bureau is investigating.
The Muslim Council of Peel and other community groups want police to investigate the incidents as hate crimes.
Criminal lawyer and former Crown prosecutor David Butt tells CityNews the woman’s actions have the potential to fall within the definition of a hate crime because it appears to be the willful promotion of hatred against an identifiable group. But he says prosecutors may ultimately decide it isn’t in the public’s best interest to lay charges.
“Sometimes prosecuting only gives more attention to the hate mongerer and sometimes it can turn them into a martyr and reverse the sympathy. So investigators, prosecutors always have to consider these questions very carefully, what is in the public interest to do?”
“We must continue to denounce such hatred wherever it appears,” Rabia Khedr, the executive director of the Muslim Council of Peel, said at the news conference.
Khedr also called for more police presence in the community especially at places of worship, as well as clearer regulations and laws against online hate. She also wants Solomon to not “be able to continue to do this at other locations.”
Crombie, as well as the iman of Masjid Dar-al Tawheed and religious leaders of other faiths stood in solidarity to reject hate in whatever form it comes in.
“Hateful acts only strengthen our resolve to come together as one community. It will not divide us,” Crombie said.
“This is something that is incredibly distressing,” Ibrahim Hindy, the imam of Masjid Dar-al Tawheed said. “We should not have fear coming to our mosques [and] safe spaces.”
Solomon calls herself a “survivor of Islam,” claiming she was tortured and forced into marriage. “I never call it marriage, I always call it rape.”
Solomon says she’s willing to have a public debate over her beliefs.
“I’m opening the door for every Imam in Canada to debate me, to prove me wrong.”