London, Ont. lawyer says his father was assaulted in Islamophobic attack

A Costco in Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Lars Hagberg

A London, Ont., lawyer is speaking out after he says his elderly father was assaulted over the weekend in a Costco parking lot and told to “go back to where he came from.”

London lawyer Nawaz Tahir, who is a prominent member of the London Muslim community, said his father, 75, his sister and her husband were waiting to pull into a parking spot at the south London Costco on Sunday morning when the incident took place.

Tahir, who was not at the Costco when the incident happened, is speaking out on behalf of his family.

He said the family was waiting to pull into the parking spot when a man who was being blocked from pulling out of his parking spot got out of the car and started yelling at the family.

Tahir said the man was yelling and proceeded to try to pull the windshield wipers off the car, punching the window, and then opened the passenger side door of the car, where his father was sitting, and grabbed him.

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Tahir said several people in the parking lot intervened to get the man to back off and let his father go.

“At least two witnesses heard the man yell at the three of them to go back to their country, and at least two of the witnesses, including one Costco employee, said they have every right to be here,” he said.

“One of the bystanders called police, but by the time they got there the man had already left.”

Someone was able to take a picture of the man’s car and licence plate before the man left the scene.

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In a post on his Twitter yesterday, Tahir said police told him they were not leaning towards assault charges, saying after the family was able to park their car and the man continued yelling at them, his father then put his fists up in defence.

“In hearing the continued verbal tirade from the other guy, (my father) put up his fists, and they say in the act of putting up his fists it made it more of a consensual fight than an assault.

“In my view, by then the assault had already taken place.”

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Since the post on Twitter, Tahir said police have said assault charges have not yet been ruled out.

“This investigation is active and ongoing. We take incidents such as these seriously, and can confirm that officers continue to look into this matter,” police said in a statement to Global News.

Tahir said he was “feeling a little better” on Monday.

“I was pretty disappointed last night after my conversation with police, but it does seem like now more is being done.”

Tahir said he is grateful for those that intervened to help his family, saying action like this is what helps us combat hate.

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Islamaphobia in London is nothing new, with racist incidents towards residents becoming more known in the wake of the June 6 terrorism attack that killed a local Muslim family.

“We continue, even after June 6, to hear stories of people being subjected to this kind of verbal abuse and hate incidents, and we need to as a country move forward on this with stronger hate crime legislation and stronger supports in place for victims of hate crimes,” Tahir said.

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