A mosque in Toronto has been closed indefinitely after it received Christchurch-like massacre threats. Canadian police started investigation after several violent and offensive threats were received by email on early Saturday. The mosque remains closed since Monday. The threats come on the heels of the stabbing death of a volunteer mosque caretaker in the Toronto area in September.
The Canadian government isn't taking the threats lightly. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was "deeply disturbed" by the news, while Toronto Mayor John Tory said the threats are "completely unacceptable" and he stands with the Muslim community. Christchurch witnessed two attacks on two mosques in 2019 that killed 51 Muslims.
Canada on High Alert
The downtown Toronto mosque was closed indefinitely on Monday till investigations into the threat is over, police said. Mustafa Farooq, CEO of the National Council of Muslims, said he is calling on the federal government for a national action plan to dismantle white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups in Canada in the wake of the threats. He said such groups preach hate.
"The threats specifically contained a promise that guns had been procured to 'do a Christchurch all over again," the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) tweeted, referencing the attack on two mosques in New Zealand in 2019. Following that, police launched an investigation.
"These (email) messages were extraordinarily violent," Farooq said. "When we get these threats, we don't take them lightly. And that's why the mosque was shut down and remains shut down." That said NCCM said that it doesn't plan to name the mosque because that might trigger more panic among people.
Not the First Incident
Farooq said the Muslim community would not be cowed by threats. However, this is not the first incident of communal disharmony. The recent threats come less than a month after a volunteer mosque caretaker was stabbed to death in Toronto. That crime prompted 25 human rights groups to send a letter on October 5 to Trudeau asking for an action plan to shut down white supremacist groups "so that we don't continue to keep having to go to funeral after funeral, to respond to threats after threats."
"Obviously, there's a lot of fear," Farooq said. "There is a lot of concern. What is going to happen next?" Following the recent threats, Trudeau denounced Islamophobia and right-wing extremism. "Islamophobia and right-wing extremism have no place in our country or our communities," he said. "We must always stand united against hate or intolerance of any kind." He said that the government will do more to address Islamophobia, but did not provide specifics.