Suspect sought after hate-motivated graffiti spray painted on Islamic centre in Markham

Police are searching for a suspect in connection with a hate-motivated incident at an Islamic centre in Markham.

Investigators were called to the Imam Mahdi Islamic Centre on Bayview Avenue in Thornhill around 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 14 after hate-motivated graffiti was discovered.

Police say just before midnight on Oct. 13, a male suspect spray painted three areas of the mosque with derogatory, anti-Iranian language, written in Farsi, aimed towards the Iranian government before leaving the property.

The suspect is described as approximately five-foot-10, with a thin to medium build. He was wearing a face covering with possibly a bandanna, a short jacket, baseball cap, jeans and light coloured shoes.

Suspect in Islamic centre graffiti investigation

Security photo image of suspect wanted in connection with a hate-motivated incident at an Islamic centre in Markham. YRP/HO

“Investigators are seeking assistance from the community to help identify the suspect and asking any witnesses, anyone with information or video surveillance footage in that area, to please come forward,” York Regional Police said in a statement.

The National Council of Canadian Muslims says this is part of a troubling pattern of Islamophobia in recent weeks that has focused on the centre.

“We are deeply saddened to see Muslims in Canada suffer Islamophobic backlash as a result of events happening worldwide,” the council tweeted. “The recent Islamophobic attacks at the Imam Mahdi Islamic Centre in Thornhill are a devastating example of this. Just recently, “Death to priests” was spray-painted onto the mosque, where children and the elderly congregate. The same mosque was subjected to numerous threats – one individual posted that it is “mandatory to bomb the mosque”. Another hypothesized getting COVID-19 and spitting on congregants.”

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