Muslims in Verdun, Que., worried after man appears to try to gain access to mosque

Muslims in Verdun, Que., worried after man appears to try to gain access to mosque

The Islamic community in Montreal's Verdun borough is on edge after a man appeared to try to force his way inside a mosque.

The incident took place on Dec. 30 at the Islamic Centre of Verdun and was captured by a surveillance camera.

The video, which was posted to social media on Dec. 31, shows a man cross the street to pursue two men toward the mosque, located just beside the Verdun Metro station.

The man attempts to follow the men inside. He tugs the door once but is unsuccessful in gaining access because the men are holding it shut. He gestures, points at the men inside the centre and appears to say something before walking away.

WATCH | Incident concerns Islamic community:

Samer Elniz, the communications co-ordinator of the Muslim Association of Canada in Quebec and spokesperson for the mosque, said the incident has scared those who frequent the centre.

"We feel fear and we feel insecure. It's a place of peace. It's a place where we have peace and relaxation," he said of the centre.

Chloe Ranaldi/CBC
Chloe Ranaldi/CBC

Samer Majzoub, the president of the Canadian Muslim Forum, said the man yelled insults at Muslims.

He called for Montreal police to investigate the incident. A police report has been filed, but Montreal police could not confirm details of an investigation in time for publication.

"Whoever is doing hate incidents, or hate speech or crime … should be brought to justice whether it is against Muslim, Jewish, Christian — any group. This can't be let go because by letting it go we may send the wrong message that this is fine, it's not a problem," Majzoub said.

The incident raised the memory of the mosque shooting in Quebec City in 2017 that left six people dead, Majzoub said. The scars of that attack continue to leave the Islamic community on edge.

Chloe Ranaldi/CBC
Chloe Ranaldi/CBC

The Muslim Association of Canada (MAC) said it was working with local police to "further assess the incident."

"It is critical that we remain alert in the face of rising Islamophobia and ensure that everyone feels safe going to their place of worship," the MAC tweeted.

Justice Minister David Lametti, who represents the LaSalle–Émard–Verdun riding in Parliament, condemned the incident on social media.

"What happened at the Verdun Mosque on Friday is unacceptable and disgusting. Islamophobia has no place in our community, or anywhere in Canada," he tweeted.

"My heart goes out to the Muslim community of Verdun. If you have been affected, do not hesitate to ask for help. Resources are available and we will be there to support you."

The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) said in a social media post it was aware of the incident.

"We stand in solidarity against all forms of violence and Islamophobia, and while we wait for a completed police investigation, we are deeply concerned and shocked by the incident," the NCCM said in a tweet.