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Man arrested after assault reported at Mississauga mosque: police

Click to play video: 'Police investigating ‘possible hate-motivated crime’ on Mississauga, Ont. mosque' Police investigating ‘possible hate-motivated crime’ on Mississauga, Ont. mosque
WATCH: A man attacked worshippers in a Mississauga, Ont. mosque with what is believed to be pepper spray on Saturday morning, said National Council of Canadian Muslims chief operating officer Nadia Hasan (speaking on behalf of Dar Al-Tawheed Islamic Centre) – Mar 19, 2022

Police say a man has been arrested in connection with a “possible hate-motivated crime” at a mosque in Mississauga.

In a press release issued Saturday, Peel Regional Police said officers were called at around 7 a.m. to the Dar Al-Tawheed Islamic Centre in the McAdam Road and Matheson Boulevard area after receiving a report of an assault.

Read more: Police investigate after robbery reported at Toronto jewelry store

Police said a man walked into the centre and sprayed bear spray at members of the mosque, while “brandishing a hatchet.”

Officers said members of the mosque “quickly subdued the man until police arrived.”

Speaking on behalf of the mosque, Nadia Hasan of the National Council of Canadian Muslims said a group of about 20 men were in the middle of a dawn prayer, called Fajr, when the man carried out the alleged attack.

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“He proceeded to attack the men who were there to pray while they were praying, and he … sprayed them,” Hasan told The Canadian Press in a phone interview.

“Some of the men turned around and they very bravely decided that they were not going to let him attack them. And they tackled him to the ground and apprehended him until the police showed up.”

According to police, 24-year-old Mohammad Moiz Omar from Mississauga was arrested.

The force said its Criminal Investigation Bureau is now “considering all possible motivations, including hate-motivation for the incident as charges are pending.”

“At this stage of the investigation, it appears to be an isolated incident,” the release said. “Peel Police will continue to be present in the area to offer reassurance to the community and the Mosque and provide additional support to those affected by the incident.”

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Anyone with information is asked to contact police or Crime Stoppers.

In a statement issued Saturday the, Dar Al-Tawheed Islamic Centre said it’s congregants have been subject to a “violent attack.”

“Before he could inflict harm on any worshippers, several congregants  bravely were able to stop him in his tracks,” the statement reads.

The centre said it will be providing further comment when more information becomes available.

“We urge the Peel Police to continue to investigate all angles,” the statement said. “Our community will never be broken and we refuse to be intimidated.”

Leaders condemn attack

Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie said she was “shocked and angered” by the assault.

“This unprovoked attack on a place of worship is absolutely unacceptable and I strongly condemn it,” she wrote on Twitter. “My thoughts are with those injured and the City’s entire Muslim community.”

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said his “heart goes out to the Dar Al-Tawheed Islamic Centre community who were attacked this morning.”

“There is NO place in our province for such evil and hateful acts,” he wrote in a tweet. “We must ensure those responsible are brought to justice.”

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the attack “incredibly disturbing.”

“I strongly condemn this violence – which has no place in Canada – and I’m keeping the community in my thoughts today,” he wrote in a statement. “I also want to applaud the courage of those who were there this morning.”

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In a series of tweets, Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said “in response to an evil, violent act of Islamophobic hate, the Dar Al-Tawheed Islamic Centre community acted courageously to keep folks safe.”

“We all stand with them,” she wrote. “But it should never come to this. Everyone deserves to be safe in their community and place of worship.”

Ontario Liberal leader Steven Del Duca said he was “appalled by this frightening attack in Mississauga.”

“This is why @nccm’s #OurLondonFamilyAct to take meaningful action against Islamophobia is so important,” he wrote in a tweet. “Ontario Liberals continue to stand with the Muslim community against all acts of hate.”

Toronto Mayor John Tory said he was “shocked to hear about the violent attack” on the congregants of the mosque.

“We stand with the Muslim community in Mississauga, Toronto and across Canada in the wake of this assault,” he wrote in a tweet on Saturday.

Tory said any violence against the Muslim community or any community in a place of worship is “totally unacceptable.”

“Our work to make sure everyone can pray in peace without fear, threats or violence must continue,” he wrote.

-with files from The Canadian Press

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