TORONTO — Investigators say a 28-year-old Toronto man is facing multiple charges in three separate hate-motivated assaults targeting members of the Muslim community.
The Toronto Police Service says in a news release the first assault was reported on Wednesday at around 4:30 a.m. near the city's downtown core.
Police say a cab driver rolled down his window and asked the suspect if he wanted a ride before the suspect allegedly asked the driver whether he was Muslim and then sprayed the victim's face with an unknown substance.
Several hours later, police say a female on a bicycle who was wearing a hijab was approached by the suspect who then allegedly made derogatory statements before spraying her in the face with a substance.
Police allege the same suspect approached the Toronto Islamic Centre, a mosque in the Yonge Street and Davenport Road area, early Saturday and allegedly threw rocks and yelled derogatory slurs at several people standing outside.
Investigators say the suspect has been arrested and is facing 17 counts on various charges, including assault with a weapon, assault, uttering threats, and carrying a concealed weapon.
The Toronto mosque said in a statement published by the National Council of Canadian Muslims, an advocacy group, that members of the city's Muslim community will not be intimidated.
"While our first priority is to ensure the ongoing safety of worshippers, we need to see long term change to fight all forms of hate, including Islamophobia," the statement said.
"We would like to encourage even more worshippers to come for prayers and take a stand against all forms of hatred."
NCCM and the mosque said they both are working closely with investigators on the assaults.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 18, 2023.
The Canadian Press