Fire at Toronto mosque

Police so far are treating it as arson, not a hate crime. But a number of other hateful acts have made headlines across Canada.

By Rachel Browne
VICE News Canada | March 1, 2017

On Tuesday night, a fire broke out at an Islamic center in the west end of the city damaging the roof and leaving a waft of burning plastic. Toronto police are currently investigating it, and a number of other fires in the area over the last week, as arson — not a hate crime.

“We have to wait to see what the Toronto police determine may have happened here. But of course the moment that you have any kind of place of worship or any kind of religious institution potentially targeted in this way, then of course community members are going to be quite concerned that there may have been a bias in that particular attack,” said Amira Elghawaby of the National Council of Canadian Muslims.

Hate incidents targeting religious groups, particularly Muslim communities, continue to rise across Canada in the months since the election of President Donald Trump and a shooting at a Quebec City mosque that left six people dead.

Very rarely does a hate crime ever result in a conviction, due to the nature of the crime itself, and the burden of proof placed on the prosecution.

And because there’s no national tracker of hate crimes, and statistics published by the federal government are always two years out of date, it’s up to nonprofit groups like the National Council of Canadian Muslims and researchers to try to keep tabs on them in real time.

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