Police are investigating following reports that a Ramadan worshipper was nearly struck by a car outside a mosque in Surrey, B.C., an incident that has left the B.C. Muslim Association (BCMA) “deeply concerned.”
Mounties say worshippers were exiting after evening prayers at the Surrey Jamea Masjid on Wednesday night when a vehicle sped up to them just before 11 p.m.
A person inside the car then threw water at three pedestrians. The vehicle then veered off the road and one pedestrian was “almost struck,” according to Mounties.
“While the suspect’s motives are not yet known, this is a very disturbing incident directed at our Muslim community,” the RCMP said in a statement.
“We will be working to determine motive and want to reassure the community that the incident will be fully investigated.”
Police say they have identified a suspect, but are still seeking witnesses and any further information as they continue to investigate.
The BCMA said in a statement Thursday that its first priority is making sure congregants are safe in the aftermath of the incident, and that they have asked police to investigate the incident as a hate crime.
The statement also said someone inside a car threw a substance at the worshippers leaving evening prayers, before the car sped away and then returned to repeatedly feign trying to run people over.
Muhammad Asad Gondal, president of the association, said the incident had profoundly shaken the congregation at the mosque.
“It’s especially disturbing for the innocent worshipper, especially [since it happened] where they worship,” he said.
“They’re connecting with God and they’ve been attacked.”
Gondal said a lot of children and women walk to the mosque in the neighbourhood.
He added that he doesn’t know how the incident will affect turnout at the mosque — a few days before Eid, Islam’s holiest festival.
In their statement, the BCMA said pretending to run people over is “not a small matter” after a Muslim family in London, Ont., was struck and killed by a truck last summer in what police have said was a hate-motivated attack.
The National Council of Canadian Muslims said it’s calling on political leaders, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and B.C. Premier John Horgan, to prioritize challenging Islamophobia.
“While action has been taken on some of our recommendations, many of the recommendations we put forward after the London Terror Attack have not been realized,” the council tweeted.
“We need to do more. And we need to do it now.”
We are calling on all leaders – including <a href=”https://twitter.com/JustinTrudeau?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@JustinTrudeau</a> and <a href=”https://twitter.com/jjhorgan?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@jjhorgan</a> – to prioritize challenging Islamophobia.<br><br>While action has been taken on some of our recommendations, many of the recommendations we put forward after the London Terror Attack have not been realized.