Police say arrest in alleged Markham mosque attack not linked to earlier incident

A Richmond Hill man has been charged with assault after allegedly assaulting several people outside a Markham mosque. This is the second attack at a mosque during the month long Ramadan. Police do not suspect both attacks are connected.

By Michael Talbot

A day after officials at a Markham mosque pleaded for help from the federal and provincial governments to make places of worship safer following a disturbing incident, York Regional Police announced charges in another suspected hate-motivated incident at a different Markham mosque.

Police say on Sunday, April 9, a man attended the Imam Mahdi Islamic Centre in the Bayview and Proctor Avenues area, exiting his vehicle and yelling derogatory slurs at worshippers.

“A crowd formed outside the mosque, and the suspect assaulted several people before driving away,” police said in a release.

Police were informed of the incident the next day and arrested a suspect later that night.

Mohssen Bayani, 47, of Richmond Hill, is facing three counts of assault and one count of mischief under $5,000.

Police don’t believe the incident is connected to one just days earlier at a different mosque in Markham.

In that earlier incident, police arrested 28-year-old Sharan Karunakaran. They charged him with uttering threats, assault with a weapon, and dangerous driving after he allegedly showed up at the Islamic Society of Markham on Denison Street during morning prayers and tore a copy of the Qur’an while directing racist and Islamophobic rants toward worshippers.

The president of the Islamic Society of Markham, Qasir Nasir Khan, said the suspect also threatened to burn the mosque down and tried to ram congregants with his vehicle.

On Monday, Khan held a news conference saying he wants the federal government to increase funding so at-risk places of worship can pay for third-party security.

Khan said a team of volunteers provides current security at his mosque.

“Our communities have reasons to feel afraid. Make no mistake, we could have been at a funeral today,” Khan said during Monday’s update.

Police also believe Karunakaran showed up at a mosque in Scarborough earlier on April 6 and allegedly antagonized worshippers.

Police said they are investigating both incidents and are trying to determine a motive.

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