Surrey mosque incident not ‘racially motivated hate crime,’ RCMP say

An investigation into what the Mounties called a “very disturbing incident” outside of a Surrey mosque this week has found it was not a hate crime, police said in an update.

On Saturday, the Surrey RCMP issued a statement saying their investigation found that those responsible for throwing water onto worshipers from a passing car, and almost striking them, were “teenagers who are part of the Muslim community.”

The investigation began Thursday when police were called to 24 Street and 72A Avenue, close to the Surrey Jamea Masjid after evening prayers had concluded.

No criminal charges have been recommended. One way to potentially resolve the case, police said in a media release, is to pursue alternative measures, “using a restorative justice approach which would allow all parties to come together and express the impacts that this incident had on them and the greater community. “

Despite ruling out the possibility that this was a “racially-motivated hate crime,” Assistant Commissioner Brian Edwards said it is still critical that these incidents are reported and investigated.

“The RCMP recognizes that any incidents such as this one that are initially believed to be a hate crime are traumatizing to our community,” he wrote in a statement.

“However, once it was discovered that the nature of the incident was not hate motivated, it was important for us to update the public … The Surrey RCMP takes allegations of bias-related crimes very seriously.”

Shortly after the incident, the BC Muslim Association issued a statement saying it was “gravely concerned” by what happened, noting that the targets had been exiting evening prayers and were wearing traditional clothing.

The attack took place days before Eid Al-Fitr, the religious holiday marking the end of fasting for Ramadan

The association said the incident was particularly alarming in light of last year’s terror attack in London, Ont., that killed four members of a Muslim family.

Edwards said he has personally updated the organization’s president, describing it as a “positive discussion about the outcome of this event as well as our shared objective of ensuring safety of all communities, including our Muslim residents.”

With files from CTV News Vancouver’s Andrew Weichel

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