Police arrest man for alleged 'hate incident' in Muslim prayer space at Pearson airport

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Jean Francois Ouellette-Godin, 47, is suspected of vandalizing a Muslim prayer space at Pearson airport in what police are calling a 'hate incident.' (Peel Regional Police - image credit)
Jean Francois Ouellette-Godin, 47, is suspected of vandalizing a Muslim prayer space at Pearson airport in what police are calling a 'hate incident.' (Peel Regional Police - image credit)

A man wanted for vandalizing a Muslim prayer space at Pearson International Airport was arrested Friday, police say.

Jean Francois Ouellette-Godin, 47, was arrested in Toronto and transferred to the custody of Peel Regional Police, the force said in a news release.

He was released on an undertaking and is scheduled to appear in court on June 7. Ouellette-Godin has no known fixed address, according to the release.

Peel police said the incident happened on Sunday, March 21 around 2:30 p.m. at Pearson's Terminal 3.

They allege Ouellette-Godin entered the Multi-Faith Prayer Room and began causing damage.

Police intend to charge him with mischief and said they are investigating this as a "hate incident."

This picture posted to Facebook shows damage done to a Multi-Faith Prayer Room at Pearson's Terminal 3. According to the National Council of Canadian Muslims, the damage included copies of the Quran thrown onto the floor.
This picture posted to Facebook shows damage done to a Multi-Faith Prayer Room at Pearson's Terminal 3. According to the National Council of Canadian Muslims, the damage included copies of the Quran thrown onto the floor.(Muhammad Omar Farooq/Facebook)

"This incident was a violation of the sanctity of a prayer space — a place where our Muslim community can take time to pray and reflect," Peel police Chief Nishan Duraiappah said.

"We will not tolerate any activity or crime that is rooted in hate or bias. We are committed to locating the suspect and bringing closure to our community."

In a Facebook post by Muhammad Omar Farooq, pictures show the window coverings of the prayer space pulled back and askew. Books, papers and what appears to be garbage can also be seen scattered all over the floor.

"The incident is being investigated as hate-motivated and involved cupboards being destroyed and copies of the Quran thrown onto the floor," the National Council of Canadian Muslims, said in a statement sent out Thursday.

The council said it is now working with the Greater Toronto Airports Authority on how to better protect workers.

"It is brutally sad that this attack on a place where workers go to find solace comes amidst rising hate in Canada, and targeted attacks on members of the Muslim community," said Mustafa Farooq, CEO of the council.