Police investigating after 2 Muslim men, copies of Qur'an, sprayed with urine
'I came home and took a shower but my jacket and everything smelled,' said Quazi Islam
Toronto police are investigating after two Toronto men who hand out copies of the Qur'an and books on Islam to passers-by every weekend at St. Lawrence Market say they were sprayed with urine last Saturday.
"I didn't see who sprayed it but I smelled it and came to my table, and [I saw] the whole table, table-cloth and Qur'an ... was sprayed and smelled," Quazi Islam told CBC Toronto. "I came home and took a shower but my jacket and everything smelled."
Islam said it happened around 11 a.m. and caused them to put away their damaged flyers and Qur'an in plastic bags.
He filed a police report the next day alongside his friend, Gerges Hamad, who was also there at the time of the incident.
The two men say they have been talking about Islam to passers-by from the same spot at St. Lawrence Market for just under two years and though they've been on the receiving end of many abusive comments, nothing like this has ever happened before.
"We experienced similar things a couple of times ... Someone has spit on our face and the floor. From time to time people comment, very few people, stuff like, 'Don't bring this garbage into our country.'" said Islam.
"Generally, if something big happens, such as when [the attack in] Paris happened last year, then we experience these things."
Toronto Police investigating
Toronto police have confirmed they are investigating the incident but are not classifying it as a hate crime until they have more evidence.
Islam and Hamad are not affiliated with any Islamic organization or mosque. They say they're simply there to dispel misconceptions about Islam and point out what the religion has in common with Christianity and Judaism.
"We are not there to convince people to change their beliefs," said Hamad. "We are educating people on Islam. We are not there to make any problems."
Both men said they are afraid that the perpetrator, who approached their table from behind, may return and that something more violent could happen.
"We're really scared about our life and after what happened in Quebec ... it can escalate to a more violent thing. That's why we reported to the police," Hamad said.
'People stand up for us'
Islam says the incident is not representative of the wider community. Despite the odd comment here and there, people usually regard them with respect even if they don't agree with their message.
"Many people stand up ... Couple of people stand up for us and say they're helping us. People are saying, 'I don't believe in your religion but I am supporting you and what you're doing,'" he said.
"People say, 'We don't believe your religion, we don't practise, but we want your voice to be heard.' Those are the things that keep us going."
The two men say they debated going home early that day because they weren't feeling safe but decided to continue.
"This incident ... is not keeping us away. We're scared ... but we are not violent people. We don't have anything to fight back," Hamad said.
"We'll just leave it to the police to give us safety."
With files from Adrian Cheung and Emma Kimmerly