The daughter of a man murdered outside of a Toronto mosque last month is speaking out, describing her dad as a “loving, caring father.”
In an interview with Global News, Bebe Zafis said her father, 58-year-old Mohamed-Aslim Zafis, was a dedicated volunteer at the west-end mosque where he died.
“He was always loving, caring, had a sense of humor,” Bebe said. “He brought joy to my life from the day I was born until now.”
Mohamed-Aslim was stabbed to death outside of the International Muslim Organization mosque the evening of Sept. 12.
Bebe said she spoke with her father one day before the stabbing and he had planned to go and visit her at work on Sept. 14. But instead, Bebe said, that day she learned of his death.
On Thursday, the National Council of Canadian Muslims released security camera footage of Mohamed-Aslim’s death. Bebe said she hopes the graphic nature of the video moves others to ensure similar acts won’t happen again.
The video appears to show the moment a man comes up behind Mohamed-Aslim and stabs him as he is seated outside the mosque. As Mohamed-Aslim stumbles to the ground, the suspect is seen casually walking out of frame. The video does not appear to show any interaction or altercation between the two men prior to the violent attack.
“I see my dad sitting in that chair and someone comes from the back … and stabs him,” Bebe said.
“He’d been sitting there his whole life doing what he does for people. Why do you have the right to kill him? A loving, caring father.”
Thirty-four-year-old Guilherme (William) von Neutegem has been charged with first-degree murder in relation to the death. Police do not believe the suspect and the victim were known to each other.
Advocacy groups are calling for the murder to be investigated as a hate crime, pointing to the suspect’s social media profiles as evidence that he is connected to white supremacy movements.
“Within five minutes, we found his Twitter profile and we found that he followed a number of white supremacists accounts,” Evan Balgord, the executive director of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, previously told Global News.
Balgord said the suspect followed several neo-Nazi accounts, which could provide insight into the motive behind the killing of Mohamed-Aslim.
Toronto police said they’re investigating all possibilities with regards to motive.
“The hate needs to stop. We’re all one kind of people, whether you’re Christian, Hindu or Muslim,” Bebe said.
She said she wants to see more police officers outside of mosques to ensure security.
–With files from Catherine McDonald