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‘Why you gotta rip my flag off?’: Ontario man harassed on his own driveway over Palestinian flag on car

Naveed Ali wants his community to assure the safety of citizens after the random, unprovoked incident fuelled by the Israel-Hamas war

Warning: This story contains images and language that may be offensive to readers.

A Pickering resident is calling on authorities to reassure local community members of their safety after claiming to be a victim of an alleged crime on their driveway that involved a Palestinian flag and a “F*ck You” note.

Social Worker Naveed Ali was parked in his driveway on Usman Road near the Pickering Islamic Centre on Tuesday evening when he claims a man came up and ripped off the Palestinian flag hanging off his Honda SUV while sticking a note to the windshield that read “I pray that Israel crushes Hamas, the Arabs and the Palestinians.”

Social Worker Naveed Ali was parked in his driveway on Usman Road near the Pickering Islamic Centre on Tuesday evening when he claims a man came up and ripped off the Palestinian flag hanging off his Honda SUV while sticking a note to the windshield that read “I pray that Israel crushes Hamas, the Arabs and the Palestinians.”
Social Worker Naveed Ali was parked in his driveway on Usman Road near the Pickering Islamic Centre on Tuesday evening when he claims a man came up and ripped off the Palestinian flag hanging off his Honda SUV while sticking a note to the windshield that read “I pray that Israel crushes Hamas, the Arabs and the Palestinians.”

“He put that note on my car, and tore my flag. I confronted him and didn't want him to leave. He took a swipe at me - at first I thought he was carrying a knife but I think it was a key - something hit me but didn't cut me. I got worried and hid his arm into his sleeve,” Ali shared exclusively with Yahoo News Canada.

In some of the pictures and videos shared by Ali as evidence, a man wearing an army-green coloured jacket and red pants is seen being held to the ground by Ali while questioning the aged man on maintaining the law.

“You wanna break the law like that, eh? Why? You think that’s the right way? Be a man!” Ali can be heard saying in the video shared with Yahoo News Canada.

“Knock on my door and say you wanna talk to me. Say I seen your flag, what’s that about? Why you gotta rip my flag off?,” Ali can be heard questioning the man in the video.

"Why are you coming to my neighbourhood and threatening? What's wrong with my flag? The man said ‘You support Hamas with that flag’, but this flag has nothing to do with that, it’s the flag of Palestine - I have had this flag for decades,” Ali explained to Yahoo News Canada.

The man, who was pressed against the ground and remained relatively silent throughout the video, can be heard responding with a “mmhmm” to Ali’s questions.

When asked why the man was restrained in that position, Ali told Yahoo News Canada it was to prevent his attempts to flee the scene before police arrived.

“I don’t hurt people,” Ali can be heard saying in the video.

“You tried to –” responded the man before being cut off by a voice from behind the camera.

“He’s not hurting you, he is defending himself.”

“Making sure you don’t leave. You tried to go in your car didn’t you?” Ali said in the video.

“There were people gathering around. I made sure no one would harm him," Ali told Yahoo News Canada.

The Durham Regional Police Service, who arrived at the scene around 6 p.m. Tuesday, identified the man as 63-year-old Howard Cooper and charged him with “Assault with a Weapon” and “Mischief.

The police released him on Undertaking and are currently investigating if “the charges meet the threshold for a hate-crime,” according to the statement released by the DRPS on Wednesday afternoon.

Durham Regional Police Service identified the suspect as 63-year-old Howard Cooper and charged him with “Assault with a Weapon” and “Mischief.”
Durham Regional Police Service identified the suspect as 63-year-old Howard Cooper and charged him with “Assault with a Weapon” and “Mischief.”

The Toronto Police Service while unable to comment on the incident since the area is not under their jurisdiction, told Yahoo News Canada, they would reinstate “intimidation, harassment, or hate-motivated behaviour aimed at specific communities will not be tolerated in Toronto.”

Shocked by the events of Tuesday, Ali is calling on the authorities to take up the matter with urgency.

“The community is demanding an investigation to figure out if the individual was sent there by someone or was it a random occurrence? Am I being tagged? Our neighbourhood is worried. The kids are scared,” said the worried Pickering resident.

The alleged attack on Ali comes as the hospital bombing in Gaza takes centre stage globally with leaders like Justin Trudeau calling it “unacceptable.”

The alleged attack on Ali occurred a day after Pickering City Mayor Kevin Ashe issued a statement on not picking a side in the war and standing in solidarity with both Israeli and Palestinian communities impacted by the ongoing conflict in the Middle East.

“I share in our government’s profound concern for the loss of Israeli and Palestinian civilian life, and reinforce its steadfast support for the protection of civilians, both Israeli and Palestinian,” the statement read.

One-sided statements may be fuelling anger, victim says

Victim Naveed Ali partially blamed Canadian leaders at the federal level for choosing to show outright support to Israel rather than sending out a more balanced message.

“This is a result of the recent one-sided statements coming out of our leaders and not seeing the other side of the picture.”

“They could have easily said what Hamas is doing has nothing to do with Palestinian people.

People can support Ukraine, but not Palestine? They can support Russia, Israel even but not Palestine?” Ali shared emphatically with Yahoo News Canada.