Peel Regional Police say they are investigating an incident as “hate-motivated” after a woman can be seen on video at a Mississauga Islamic centre appearing to tear the pages of a Qur’an and putting the pages on cars while calling the religious text “Satanic.”
The incident happened at the Dar Al-Tawheed Islamic Centre, near Highways 403 and 401, just after 5 p.m. on Thursday.
In a 10-minute video obtained by Global News, after it was posted and subsequently deleted on the Never Again Canada website, a woman who identifies herself as Sandra Solomon said she is visiting mosques “to educate as many as we can people about the true face of Islam.” She said she wants to see the Qur’an designated as “hate literature.”
She said she has been going to mosques for more than a year and contacting Imams.
Rabia Khedr, executive director of the Muslim Council of Peel (MCP), told Global News on Sunday that Solomon is a known “Islamophobe and anti-Muslim activist” who has been travelling across the country and has disrupted a “handful” of mosques in the Peel region.
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Global News has confirmed Solomon visited two other mosques in Mississauga the same day as the incident at Dar Al-Tawheed.
Khedr said that the MCP and the affected mosques have received support from the community.
“Our friends and allies of faith and non-faith affiliations are standing with us against such hatred. We want to make sure this hatred is removed from our communities.”
Peel Regional Police Const. Bally Saini told Global News on Sunday that investigators from 12 Division are aware of “three similar incidents at this time, which all occurred on Thursday.”
They are looking into the complaints and are treating the incidents as “hate-motivated.”
Saini said police are looking to speak with any witnesses and to review any video surveillance of the alleged incidents.
“At this point there aren’t any charges laid, but we do have our investigators doing a thorough investigation to see exactly what transpired and to see if there is actual a criminal element to this incident,” she said.
Meanwhile, in the video Solomon can be seen ripping a page out of a book she said was a Qur’an, waving it at the camera and putting it under a car’s windshield wiper along with another flyer.
“We need to target the Imams. They are the ones, they are the ones who need to be targeted,” she said.
“This is where the Qur’an belongs — Satanic, evil book,” she said while putting another page and flyer under a windshield wiper.
Solomon could then be seen inside the lobby of the Islamic centre before the camera focuses on a room where several people could be seen praying. The camera cuts back to her sifting through various religious books on display and calling the books “garbage.” Solomon said she is a proud Christian and formerly Muslim.
Solomon asked multiple times of people inside the centre to speak with the Imam while being asked to leave. This occurred as the person filming the video was ushered toward the door.
A man off camera could then be heard telling Solomon that she, along with the person filming her rant, are trespassing on private property and that the visit is “very disrespectful.”
As she was directed toward the exit, Solomon said, “I’m going to expose Islam to the world and I’m not afraid, I’m not a coward, like your Imam – he’s a coward.”
While walking off the property, Solomon continued to question aloud the men who were praying.
“What prayers? Which God you worship? You worship Satan,” she said.
Eventually a person off camera said to her, “You shouldn’t be so mad.”
Khedr said there is no place for the kind of rhetoric that Solomon voices in the video.
Angie Hindy, who is the assistant principal at the Safa & Marwa Islamic School, which is located inside the Islamic Centre, told Global News on Sunday that she was concerned when she heard about the incident.
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Hindy, who wasn’t there at the time of the filming but has seen the video and spoken with a number of witnesses, called the incident “unfortunate.”
“It’s very disrespectful,” she said. “Why? What are you trying to prove? If you don’t like this religion, move on.”
She said Solomon is known within the community, but that she isn’t the first person to do something like this and Islamopobia is something they’ve “lived with for a while.”
“As a community, we’re just trying to educate people as to how to be respectful and we educate our own students, we teach each other how we can have differences but that we can coexist and just to be respectful.”
She said she will use the incident as a learning opportunity for her students, who were not there at the time of the incident.
“We will tell them there will be people in the world like this unfortunately and how, we as Muslims, can use this opportunity to show how we react to these situation.
“We will still be respectful, we will use it as an opportunity to educate people about Islam and what we’re about and how they can coexist with other people.”
Global News tried to contact Solomon a number of times but did not hear back by time of publication.
Both Khedr and Hindy said they are thankful for the support and the ‘swift action’ of the police.
“We are confident our friends at Peel police are doing their due diligence and are investigating and will make sure any appropriate charges for criminal activity are laid,” Khedr said.
On Sunday, Saini said the information investigators have suggests that the Qur’an Solomon is seen ripping in the video is her own, however, “police are looking into all aspects of the incident and are not ruling out anything at this time.”
Anyone with information is urged to contact police or Crime Stoppers anonymously.
— With files from Stewart Bell and Allison Vuchnich.