Man stabbed to death at Toronto mosque

TORONTO – Police have identified a man fatally stabbed in the neck outside a west-end Toronto mosque as a 58-year-old volunteer caretaker for the facility.

Homicide detectives say Mohamed-Aslim Zafis was sitting outside the International Muslim Organization of Toronto, controlling access to the building in compliance with public health measures meant to curb the spread of COVID-19, when the suspect approached him.

Police allege the suspect stabbed Zafis in the neck once before running away.

Witnesses called 911 at about 8:40 p.m., and responding officers found Zafis gravely wounded.

Police are searching for a suspect described as a slim male wearing a black hoodie.

The IMO says it is “deeply saddened and shocked” by the death.

“We pray that our brother is in a better place. We ask you that you spend your time praying for him and his family in these testing times,” says a statement issued by the National Council of Canadian Muslims and signed by the board of the IMO.

The building has been closed for now and the organization said it will reopen when the investigation is concluded and it is deemed safe for the congregation to return.

“We know that many of us are saddened beyond words, and are afraid and worried after such an act of violence struck so close to home,” the statement says, noting those affected can contact a mental health hotline or arrange a meeting with a spiritual counsellor.

The statement urges people not to speculate about the motive of the attack as police finish their investigation.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 13, 2020.