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Video shows suspected hate-motivated incident at Toronto-area mosque

Surveillance video obtained by CTV News Toronto shows an incident outside a Toronto-area mosque during Ramadan celebrations that resulted in charges against a 47-year-old man — the second incident at a mosque in less than a week.

In the video, a man drives a dark-coloured SUV to the entrance of the Imam Mahdi Islamic Centre in Markham, Ont. on Sunday, and can later be seen talking and gesturing to drivers leaving the parking lot.

He attempts to communicate with two people en route to the mosque, who appear to ignore him, and then appears to shove another man.

“He blocked the front entrance and is alleged to have gotten out of his vehicle and yelled derogatory slurs,” said York Regional Police’s Clint Whitney.

“It’s alleged the suspect assaulted several people before driving away. This is the second incident at a mosque since April 6. It’s disturbing that this is happening to this extent.”

Executives at the mosque declined to be interviewed but said they would continue with planned celebrations of Ramadan, a Muslim holy month that lasts until April 20.

Police were advised of the incident on Monday shortly before 1 p.m.

Mohssen Bayani, 47, of Richmond Hill, was arrested on April 10 around 8 p.m. He has been charged with three counts of assault and one count of mischief under $5,000. Bayani was released from custody and is set to appear in court on May 17.

Investigators said they believe there are additional victims who have not yet come forward and are urging them to contact police.

It should be noted that police do not believe this incident is connected to another similar occurrence at a different mosque in Markham on April 6.

In that case, a 28-year-old man allegedly shouted Islamophobic slurs and drove his vehicle directly at a worshipper at Islamic Society of Markham at 2900 Denison St., just east of Middlefield Road.

On April 7, police arrested Sharan Karunkaran and charged him with uttering threats, assault with a weapon, and dangerous driving.

That incident prompted mosque officials and Muslim community members to call on the Ford government to expedite the Our London Family Act, which the Ontario NDP introduced in the wake of a hate-motivated attack in London, Ont. that killed four members of a Muslim family almost two years ago. That bill has been sitting in committee since March 3, 2022.

They also want the federal government to expand the coverage of security expenses at places of worship.

Anyone with further information about this latest incident is urged to contact York Regional Police at 1-866-876-5423, ext. 7241, or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or www.1800222tips.com.

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