Man charged for allegedly spraying irritant at Mississauga mosque worshippers

One man is in custody after attacking worshippers Saturday morning with a hatchet and bear spray. David Zura explains.

By Michael Ranger and Kailie Annetts and Michelle Morton

Charges have been laid after a man allegedly entered a Mississauga mosque on Saturday morning armed with a hatchet and sprayed worshippers with bear spray, according to Peel police.

Officers say they received a call regarding an assault just before 7 a.m. at the Dar Al-Tawheed Islamic Centre, near Matheson Boulevard and Kennedy Road.

A witness tells CityNews that several people were inside the mosque for morning prayers and multiple people were sprayed in the eyes and throat. Members of the mosque were able to subdue the man while someone called the police.

“Before he could inflict harm on any worshippers, several congregants bravely were able to stop him in his tracks,” said Ibrahim Hindy, the mosque’s imam, in a Twitter post. “Our community will never be broken and we refuse to be intimidated.”

Police say there were minor injuries to some mosque members as a result of the bear spray.

Premier Doug Ford condemned the attack in a statement on Saturday afternoon, saying he is grateful for the heroism of the mosque members.

“There is no place in our province for such evil and hateful acts,” said Ford. “We must ensure those responsible are brought to justice.”

The Prime Minister also condemned the incident on Saturday, calling the attack disturbing.

“I strongly condemn this violence – which has no place in Canada – and I’m keeping the community in my thoughts today. I also want to applaud the courage of those who were there this morning,” Justin Trudeau wrote online.

Toronto Mayor John Tory released a statement, reading in part, “Thankful for those who stopped the attack.”

“We stand with the Muslim community in Mississauga, Toronto and across Canada in the wake of this assault,” Tory said, adding, “Our work to make sure everyone can pray in peace without fear, threats or violence must continue.”

Mohammed Moiz Omar, a 24-year-old from Mississauga, was arrested at the scene and appeared in court the same day.

Police say the incident is believed to be hate motivated.

Moiz has been charged with assault with a weapon, administering noxious substance with intent to endanger life or cause bodily harm, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, uttering threat to cause death or bodily harm, carrying a concealed weapon, and mischief to religious property.

“Violence of any kind is unacceptable in our community and we are taking this matter extremely seriously,” Superintendent Rob Higgs said in a statement, adding the investigation is ongoing, and “we will continue to work closely with our community partners as our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Divisional Mobilization Officers continue to engage with faith leaders and community members.”

Anyone who has information is asked to contact police or Crime Stoppers.

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