A man said he wanted to “kill terrorists” in an attack on Muslim worshippers during prayer last month, the imam of the mosque in Mississauga, Ont., alleged Thursday.
Witnesses said about 20 men took down the man as he let loose a stream of bear spray at Dar Al-Tawheed Islamic Centre on March 19. They held him until Peel regional police arrived.
No one was seriously injured in the attack.
Imam Ibrahim Hindy said the man also had anti-Muslim posts on social media, but did not provide details.
“It appears he was full of hate towards members of the Muslim community,” Hindy said. “When he attacked members of the community, he told members of the congregation as he was being tackled that he was there to kill terrorists.”
The man “clearly identifies as an ex-Muslim,” Hindy said.
He said worshippers remain traumatized by the incident.
“Many of them have sought therapy and mental health help from experts,” Hindy said. “Some of them were as young as 13 years old and they’re having nightmares.”
Hindy urged the provincial government to pass the Our London Family Act, a bill created by the Ontario NDP and the National Council of Canadian Muslims after a Muslim family in London, Ont., was struck and killed by a truck in what police say what a hate-motivated attack.
The bill was introduced in the legislature earlier this year and passed first reading, but has since stalled at the standing committee.
It would create safe zones around religious institutions, provide more education and tools for schools to fight racism, ban protests at Queen’s Park that incite racist, homophobic and other forms of hate, and prevent white supremacy groups from registering as societies.
“We do not understand why this legislation has not been passed,” Hindy said. “It is uncontroversial.”
House speaker Paul Calandra said in the legislature Thursday that the bill would not pass before the provincial election is called next month.
“It is our belief that the bill needs more work in order to strengthen it,” he said during Question Period.
“It is too important. What we saw happen in London, I think we all agree, was a tragedy, and there is a tremendous amount of work that we have to do as legislators to ensure that we honour that, that we respect that and that we work to combat not only Islamophobia, but all forms of racism.”
Hindy also said the federal government needs to revamp its security infrastructure program.
“Right now, I would need to wait months to get any security improvements to the building,” he said. “And I wouldn’t be able to hire a security guard, which is a real problem given the fact that we have many children who frequent this facility.”
Public Safety Canada did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Pain lingers at the mosque, said Angie Hindy, who works there.
“I find myself looking over my shoulder, scanning exits and thinking of ways to protect my congregants and our children during prayers,” she said.
“If it weren’t for the courage of several worshippers that day, I’m not sure what would have happened.”
Mohammad Moiz Omar, 24, faces several charges including assault with a weapon, administering a noxious substance with intent to endanger life and uttering threats.