Edmonton Police say hate crimes unit is watching group that showed up at mosque

Spokesperson with Al Rashid mosque said two men entered the building before prayers

Police in Edmonton say a group that entered a mosque and later argued with people outside is on their radar, but one member says he was only there to learn more about Islam and just went inside to use the bathroom.

Noor Al-Henday, a spokeswoman for the Al Rashid mosque, said two men entered the building Friday before prayers and appeared to be scouting the building. She alleged that security video shows them looking into the gym and the men’s area, and that one of them then went upstairs in the women’s area before peeking inside, then coming down again and entering a washroom.

Al-Henday said the mosque’s executive director spotted one of the men and asked him if he needed help. She said that’s when a man who was wearing a toque with the word “infidel” written in Arabic joined them, but she said the pair weren’t interested in a chat and made their way out of the building.

“They went outside and our camera footage shows they met up with two other men. I’m not sure if there were more. And they got in a confrontation with our community, with some of the community members who were outside,” Al-Henday said.

A nine-minute livestream video of the encounter outdoors was recorded and posted to Facebook by Ty Hunt, who said he entered the mosque. The video appears to show an argument about Islam.

One of the men in the video suggests one of the people attending the mosque was from another country, drawing a passioned response.

“I was born at York Finch General Hospital in Toronto, Ontario, Canada,” replied the man, who identified himself as Warren Wheeler. “My father’s from Newfoundland. My mother is from Jamaica.”

Officers were called to the incident but they say no arrests were made.

Police spokeswoman Cheryl Voordenhout said in an email that the force’s Hate Crimes and Violent Extremism Unit was consulted in the investigation.

“Hate Crimes unit is aware of this group and is monitoring their activities,” Voordenhout said.

Hunt, who acknowledges he has a tattoo of the word “infidel” on his neck and was formerly with the group Soldiers of Odin, told The Canadian Press on Facebook that he was at the mosque “to engage in a conversation to ask about Islam” and just stepped inside for a bathroom break.

“I hear a lot of right-wing propaganda about Islam. Because of the media attention when I was with Soldiers of Odin, it’s been difficult to meet with Muslims anymore,” Hunt wrote.

“The location of the mosque is not close to other bathrooms. Two weeks ago I was in a Christian church in Leduc and used that bathroom too but (there was) a lot less media attention.”

Al-Henday said the mosque believes the men intended to provoke.

“When our executive director approached them and asked them if they needed any help, they did not want to talk to anybody from inside the mosque on our staff,” she said.

“I mean, you walk into a mosque with a toque that looks like that and just trying to show your faces in multiple places, that cannot be a sign for a good thing.”

Hunt said the Muslim community has since reached out to him and he’s making arrangements to meet.

Politicians on both sides of the Alberta legislature weighed in on Saturday to condemn racism.

“This is odious and has no place in our Alberta. All Albertans must be able to practice their faith in peace without threat or intimidation,” tweeted Jason Kenney, leader of the Alberta United Conservative Party, along with photos and a news story about the confrontation.

Premier Rachel Notley condemned hate in a tweet on Saturday as well, although it wasn’t clear if she was speaking directly about Friday’s incident.

“Hearing that a hate group is openly harassing & terrorizing people in #yeg with racist & homophobic attacks & posters is beyond upsetting,” the premier wrote.

Rob Drinkwater, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

From the archives of the 100 Mile Free Press

29 Years Ago (1990): Starting on Sept. 1, smokers had better checked… Continue reading

Cow Moose Sign founder wants LEH for antlerless moose hunt in B.C. stopped

“Shooting a cow moose — it’s just not the right thing to do, especially in this region”

Cost-free adult crafting classes come to the South Cariboo this September

‘What I want to promote is a group having fun, something to come to that doesn’t cost them’

What was your favourite part of the Summer Reading Club at the library?

Pawan Nijjar 100 Mile House “The crafts and the prizes we got… Continue reading

Trudeau to meet with U.K. and Japanese prime ministers ahead of G7 summit

French President Emmanuel Macron, this year’s G7 host, has little expectations of a unified front from the leaders

Thousands cycle to conquer cancer

The 11th annual Ride to Conquer Cancer took place Saturday morning, Aug. 24 in Surrey, B.C.

PHOTOS: Brazil military begins operations to fight Amazon fires

Amazon fires have become a global issue, escalating tensions between Brazil and European countries

Racist confrontation in Richmond parking lot caught on camera

Woman can be heard yelling racial slurs, swear words at woman in apparent parking dispute

Groups ready campaign to help young voters identify ‘fake news’ in election

The media literacy campaign to focus on identifying misinformation and suspicious sources online

Big rally in northern B.C. draws attention to continuing lumber crisis

Mayor Joan Atkinson says about 400 workers have been directly affected by the closure of the Canfor mill

Orangeville Northmen take Minto Cup at Langley Events Centre

Swept best-of-five series 3-0 over Victoria Shamrocks

Expanded support to help B.C. youth from care attend university still falling short

Inadequate support, limited awareness and eligibility restrictions some of the existing challenges

Ethnic media aim to help maintain boost in voting by new Canadians

Statistics Canada says new Canadians made up about one-fifth of the voting population in 2016

Most Read