Canada mosque attack: Worshippers take down assailant armed with bear spray and an axe

‘People are obviously quite shaken’: Police say they are treating incident as a hate crime

Vishwam Sankaran
Sunday 20 March 2022 11:04 GMT
File image: Worshippers suffered minor injuries from bear spray but were otherwise unharmed
File image: Worshippers suffered minor injuries from bear spray but were otherwise unharmed (Getty Images)

Worshippers at a mosque in Canada took down an assailant who attacked them with bear spray and an axe, police say.

The man walked into the Dar Al-Tawheed Islamic Centre in Mississauga, Ontario, and “discharged bear spray towards people in the mosque while brandishing a hatchet″ just before 7am on Saturday, police say.

Some of the worshippers suffered minor injuries from the bear spray used during the attack, according to regional police, but were otherwise unharmed.

The mosque’s imam, Ibrahim Hindy, tweeted that the individual came wielding an axe and “numerous other sharp edged weapons”, as well as the spray.

“Before he could inflict harm on any worshippers, several congregants bravely were able to stop him in his tracks,” Dar Al-Tawheed Islamic Centre said in a statement.

“People are obviously quite shaken up and are recovering. For the most part, folks are still processing what’s happened and are trying to kind of see how they can ensure that their communities remain secure,” Nadia Hasan of the National Council of Canadian Muslims told the Associated Press on behalf of the mosque.

Police have charged a suspect – identified as 24-year-old Mohammad Moiz Omar – with administering a noxious substance with intent to endanger life or cause bodily harm, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, assault with a weapon, uttering threats, carrying a concealed weapon, and mischief to religious property.

They said the incident was hate-motivated.

Canadian prime minister Justice Trudeau condemned the attack on Twitter, calling it “incredibly disturbing”.

“I strongly condemn this violence — which has no place in Canada — and I’m keeping the community in my thoughts today,” Mr Trudeau tweeted.

“I also want to applaud the courage of those who were there this morning,” he added.

Toronto mayor John Tory said in a statement that any violence against the Muslim community, or any community in a place of worship, is “totally unacceptable”.

“We stand with the Muslim community in Mississauga, Toronto and across Canada in the wake of this assault,” Mr Tory said.

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