Alleged hate arson in question for Muslims and police

Like London, Ont. police continue to search for a suspect as concern grows over Saturday’s arson.

“To have someone, to set someone’s house on fire is really next-level type of hate,” said Nawaz Tahir, a spokesman for the Muslim advocacy group HIKMA.

The front door of a home on Wateroak Drive in London, Ont. is boarded up after a man allegedly set fire to his front porch over the weekend.

“What we know right now, we’re treating this as a hate-motivated incident,” said Det. insp. Alex Krygsman of the London Police Service (LPS).

It was around 10:40pm when first responders arrived on the scene to extinguish the flames. No one was injured, but the estimated damage is about $30,000.

CTV News obtained surveillance video that shows the suspect coming to the house and stealing signs supporting human rights in Palestine, as well as a Our Family in London sign.

He also left a note on the porch, which read: “Once again, if I see you put Free Palestine that stupid (implement)…I warn you.”

A note left on the front porch of a home on Wateroak Drive in London, Ont. (Source: Fatimasal82/X)

“Further investigation led us to possibly link several other prior incidents from earlier in May to the same individual,” Krygsman said.

The fire comes just days after the third anniversary of the attack on the Afzaal family in London. It happened just a short drive from this latest incident.

That prompted the prime minister to call recent incidents of Islamophobia “dangerous and ugly” and that Canadians must confront it “wherever and whenever we see it.”

The Mayor of London, Josh Morgan, has spoken to the family, who are “traumatised”.

“What they told me is the way their community and their neighborhood came together and supported them in the face of this hateful act is inspiring,” Morgan said. “This is the London I know. The neighborhood I know and this is the best in our city. .”

The London Police Service has released an image of a suspect in an arson investigation following a house fire on Wateroak Drive on June 8, 2024. (Source: London Police Service).

LPS set up a command post on a nearby street.

“”We’re continuing our canvass for video and for witnesses, but we also want to demonstrate a very clear and strong presence in the neighborhood to reassure the residents there that the police are actively investigating,” Krygsman said. “This is a safe. I am proud of this city. There is no place for this in our community and we will continue to investigate this.

HIKMA appreciates that LPS has put a lens of hate on the investigation as the family tries to cope.

“We know they are very concerned about their safety and the safety of the neighborhood,” Tahir said. “They simply wanted to show their support for human rights in Palestine. They wanted to show their support for the Our London Family and for this to happen as a reaction to that is appalling and frightening.”

Muslims renew call for governments to deliver on promises to tackle Islamophobia after arson

NCCM Director of Legal Affairs Nusaiba Al-Azem speaks at a press conference in London, Ontario (Daryl Newcombe/CTV News London)

The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) held a press conference in north London calling for government action to combat a pattern of Islamophobia that continues three years after members of the Afzaal family were killed in an act of terrorism.

“Our leaders must keep their words when they promised us change after June 2021,” said NCCM Director of Legal Affairs Nusaiba Al-Azem. “They came into our communities. They gave us a lot of words – and now we’ve surpassed that. We need concrete actions.”

Al-Azem asked:

  • better education against anti-Palestinian racism in schools
  • more effective hate legislation
  • responsible leadership that does not inflame tensions

“Anything less than that is a betrayal of our promises and a betrayal of our principles,” she added.

On 6 June 2021, members of the Afzaal family were walking in north-west London when they were deliberately struck by a man driving a lorry in a deliberate act of racially motivated terrorism.

Four members of the family were killed and a boy was seriously injured.

Imam Abd Alfatah Twakkal, president of the Council of London Imams, reflected on the sense of fear among the city’s Muslim community.

“Before, the message was that we can’t even walk the streets without feeling a sense of fear, and now the message is that we’re not even safe in our homes,” he explained. “As Canadians, we have to say, ‘No, we don’t accept this.'”

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