Canadian police have arrested a 28-year-old man named Sharan Karunakaran for attacking Muslims at a mosque in Markham City. The Markham Mosque attack, which is believed to be motivated by hate, occurred on April 6th at 6:55 am.
According to reports, the suspect entered the mosque and allegedly tore a copy of the Quran while directing racist and Islamophobic slurs towards the worshippers. He then tried to run over or strike the worshippers with his vehicle as he left the scene.
The incident troubled the entire country as it happened during the holy month of Ramadan when the mosque was particularly busy.
Canadian Muslim Community Condemns Markham Mosque Attack
Local residents and authorities expressed deep concerns as the Markham mosque attack comes 10 months after a devastating attack in London, Ontario, where a man drove a truck into a Muslim family, killing 4 people and injuring another.
The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) have said that they are “greatly distressed” and they have taken additional security measures to ensure the safety of their worshippers during the remaining days of Ramadan. In response to the incident, members of the Hate Crime Unit (HCU) visited the mosque to offer support to the community.
Who is The Attacker?
Not much is known about Sharan Karunakaran but various social media profiles have accused the perpetrator of being linked with Hindutva extremism, which is rising globally. It is a movement associated with radical Hindu outfits bent on persecuting minorities, especially Muslims. Several prominent figures have also made similar connections.
There is a joint report “Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)” by NCCM and the World Sikh Organization (WSO) of Canada. It documents the roots of the RSS movement in India and its extensive global reach. According to the report, the RSS is promoting far-right views and is closely linked to the BJP (Bhartiya Janata Party) government in New Delhi, which discriminates against minority religious groups at home and abroad.
RSS remains the main group in a network that wants India to be run by and for Hindus, even if it means ignoring the many minority groups in the country. This network is commonly known as Hindutva, an ideology that has led to discrimination and sectarian violence against minority groups in India like Muslims and Christians. Affiliated groups publically call for mass genocide of non-Hindus with impunity. It poses a major challenge to Canadian commitments to human rights, to tolerance and multiculturalism.
Many academics have noticed an increased attempt by BJP and Hindutva supporters to challenge and silence their criticism since Narendra Modi’s party came into power.
Hate Crimes Against Muslims in Canada
In recent years, several Canadian cities have witnessed a surge in anti-Muslim hate attacks, including a hit-and-run incident that occurred in London, Ontario, in June 2021, which resulted in the death of the Afzaal family, and the fatal stabbing of Mohamed-Aslim Zafis, a volunteer caretaker outside a Toronto mosque in September 2020.
In addition, there was an attack on a mosque in Quebec City in January 2017, where six men lost their lives, and many others were seriously injured. Moreover, several Black and racialized Muslim women in Edmonton have been subjected to at least six hate-motivated attacks in recent months. Last year in April, a Muslim man attacked fellow congregants at a mosque in Mississauga, Ontario, with a bear spray with authorities reporting it as a “hate-motivated incident”.