Hate crime charge filed against man who approached children at Hamilton mosque

HAMILTON — Hamilton police say they have charged a 54-year-old man with a hate crime after he entered a mosque complex and allegedly made "hate-related comments" at a group of students ranging from eight to 10 years old.

Police say the man entered the Downtown Hamilton Mosque at 12:40 p.m. on Friday through an insecure door and also tore up a copy of the Qur'an.

Hamilton police say the man was later removed from the property.

They say video evidence and witness statements gave police reasonable grounds to charge the man with criminal harassment, an incident that has been classified as a hate crime.

Hamilton police say they increased their presence at the mosque over the weekend and are working with the mosque's administration to keep the community safe.

According to Hamilton police statistics, hate crimes in the city were up 26 per cent in 2023 compared to the previous year, with a particular rise in reported incidents following the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war on Oct. 7.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 17, 2024.

The Canadian Press