Man arrested in mosque stabbing connected to neo-Nazi groups

Sep 25, 2020 | News

Chelsea Alphonso

For the Muslim community, the stabbing death this month of Mohamed-Aslim Zafis is raising serious concerns around the safety of attending places of worship.

On Sept. 18 attack, Zafis, 58, was sitting outside an Etobicoke mosque controlling the number of people who entered because of health regulations.

Guilherme (William) Von Neutegem, 34, of Toronto has been charged with first-degree murder. Since his arrest, recent reports have linked Von Neutegem to various neo-Nazi inspired occult groups.

We’ve been calling on the government to list these organizations, terrorist entities and to deal with them accordingly, to actually dismantle and to degrade their ability to organize,” Nadia Hasan, the chief operating officer at the National Council of Canadian Muslims, told Humber News.

Hasan and the council are demanding that the federal government to do more about white supremacist groups to avoid hate motivated acts of violence.

“We’ve renewed our call to the federal government to take action right away and actually come up with a national action plan to deal with white supremacist groups who are undertaking violent activities in Canada, Hasan said.

The council has launched a petition campaign to bring to the federal government in hopes that it will help quell the fears of the Muslim community.

“We don’t want our communities to to think twice before they go for Friday prayers to the mosque,” Hasan said.

Depsite the fear and rising numbers in the far-right movement, Hasan said the Muslim community is standing strong.

“We’re standing up for ourselves, where we’re standing up for everyone that we know is implicated in neo-Nazi ideology.

“I think it’s another really unfortunate illustration of the impact that the growing far-right movement has and the Canadian context,” said Dr. Barbara Perry, director of the Centre on Hate, Bias and Extremism.

“Some of it is directed towards law enforcement and some of it is directed towards members of hated communities, if you will, vilified communities.”

While the Toronto Police service has yet to call the crime hate motivated, Perry said it could be pursued legally as an act of terrorism.

“There is an increasing emphasis on what they’re now referring to as ideologically motivated violent extremism. And so this if the action is linked with his membership in that group, then that would clearly tick the boxes,she said.