EDMONTON (660 NEWS) — Edmonton police have called in the hate crimes unit to investigate an incident caught on camera.
A nine-minute-long video posted to Facebook by a man named Ty Hunt, shows a group of men standing on a sidewalk exchanging words with two Muslim men outside of a mosque. In the video, a man off-camera describes the group as “freedom fighters” who claim they are outside the mosque to gain knowledge of Islam.
Warren Wheeler, one of the Muslim men filmed in the video, was on his way to prayer when he was approached.
“People that came, if they wanted to seek knowledge, they would just come sincerely,” he said, encouraging those who want to learn to visit the mosque. “Anyone can come to the mosque and seek knowledge and no one will turn them away.”
During the interaction, the group of men badgered Wheeler and another man with questions about underage marriage and violence against non-believers. At one point, a man from the group assumes Wheeler is not from Canada and is corrected by Wheeler who was born in Toronto.
At several points during the video, the group of white men also hurl insults at Wheeler and another Muslim man.
A man off-camera says he “doesn’t speak noodle” and “piss be upon you”– a play on the Muslim saying, “peace be upon you”.
Though the group claims to be seeking knowledge of Islam, they wore clothing emblazoned with words like “infidel”, or a person who does not believe in religion. Others from the group wore toques with the Arabic word “kafir” on it, a term used to describe non-believers of Islam.
“When you come under the guise of gaining knowledge, but you are also throwing insults — you are basically being belligerent,” Wheeler said. “That tells me that the sincerity is not there.”
The video was filmed without consent and posted to a group called Ty’s Canadian Infidels, which describes itself as “patriots under one umbrella according to the Quran” serving the people of Canada. The group has shared support for right-wing politics including anti-immigration.
The video ends when Wheeler is pulled away by another Muslim man who told him prayer was about to begin.
Prior to the incident, two men were caught on surveillance cameras entering the mosque. They claimed to be using the washroom, but Wheeler said it looked more like they were canvassing the area.
Two suspicious men entered the Mosque today in what seemed like an attempt to scout the property and provoke our community. As Muslim Edmontonians we condemn such attempts to promote hatred and racism in our community. @GlobalEdmonton @ctvedmonton @edmontonjournal @doniveson pic.twitter.com/dGZ98K6mYs
— Al Rashid Edmonton (@Alrashid_YEG) January 26, 2019
Al Rashid Mosque, concerned for the safety of its members, contacted Edmonton police after the incident occurred. A spokesperson for the mosque is denouncing the group’s actions.
“We would like for this situation to be resolved, and to not occur again because of the safety of our people,” Noor Al-Henedy, a spokesperson for Al Rashid said. “This is a place of worship and it’s not a place to tolerate this kind of behaviour.”
Though they have safety protocols in place they “are working with local authorities and police to make sure that anyone who comes here is safe.”
The incident is particularly unsettling for Muslims as the second anniversary of the Quebec Mosque shooting is just days away.
For specific references to hate crimes in the Criminal Code of Canada visit the Calgary Police Service website.