London police investigate arson at a home that Muslim group calls Islamophobic attack

By John Marchesan

Police in London, Ont., are searching for a man in connection with a theft and arson at a North London residence over the weekend that they are treating as a hate-motivated attack.

Investigators say a man showed up on foot at a home in the area of Wateroak Drive around 9:30 p.m. on June 8 and left a short time later carrying some items he took from the front yard of the residence.

Police say the same man then returned to the home around 10:30 p.m. and allegedly started a fire on the front porch before leaving.

Fire crews were able to extinguish the blaze and no injuries were reported. However, the fire caused approximately $30,000 in damage to the home.

The man is described as 30 to 50 years of age with a medium to heavy build. He was last seen wearing grey shoes, dark pants, a light grey zip-up sweater with vertical black accents on the sides under the arms, a dark-coloured toque, and a medical mask. 

Det. Insp. Alex Krygsman said police are treating this as a hate-motivated incident.

“We are aware of several other incidents that occurred at the same residence since the first week of May regarding property damage, theft of signs, a threatening note that was left,” he said. “The signs were signs that expressed support for Palestine.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) called out the attack as Islamophobic.

NCCM officials called this latest attack “deeply disturbing, disappointing, and ugly,” adding it continues a pattern of Islamophobia and anti-Palestinian racism that’s been seen in the city of London and beyond.

The incident comes just days after the third anniversary of the terror attack on members of the Afzaal family who were intentionally struck by a man driving a truck, killing four of them and leaving another one seriously injured.

“We told ourselves after the London terror attack against our London family that there will be no more fear, that this city will do better, that Canada will do better. And yet for the past three years we have seen a disturbing rise in Islamophobic hate across the country,” said Nusaiba Al-Azem, legal director of the NCCM.

“This cannot go on. We can no longer allow such patterns to unfold unobstructed. We must keep our word. Our leaders must keep their word.”

Imam Abd Alfatah Twakkal, the chair of the London Council of Imams, said this crime is based on hatred, which has been plaguing the community for several years.

“As Canadians, we have to say ‘no, we don’t accept this for ourselves and we don’t accept this for others’. Any form of hatred and discrimination is a plague in our society and it needs to be addressed as such on all levels.”

Top Stories

Top Stories

Most Watched Today