(Tuesday, October 4th 2022) 

OTTAWA—On September 8th, 2022, a 15-year-old orphaned Syrian Canadian boy, who arrived in Canada as a refugee and recently moved into Ottawa, was brutally attacked near a school in the city during lunch time. A video of the attack circulated online, clearly showing a group of young men robbing the Syrian boy while viciously punching and kicking him.   

Before jumping on him, the attackers asked the young boy where he is from and whether he is an Arab and/or a Muslim. This was an Islamophobic attack.  

NCCM, the Ottawa Muslim Youth Association (OMYA), and the United Muslim Organizations of Ottawa-Gatineau (UMO-OG), have been assisting the young boy and his family throughout this difficult period.  

Such a brutal act of violence committed against a defenseless boy during school hours should anger everybody, not only the Muslim community. The perpetrators continue to attend school while a police investigation is underway. Meanwhile, the traumatized child moved to Windsor, Ontario to resume regular classes.   

“This young boy came to Canada hoping to find a better life, a better education, only to be beaten three days into the school year,” says NCCM Senior Counsel, Karine Devost. “Who will be the next victim if the Ottawa Police Services do not arrest the perpetrators? Will the young boy or any other school children ever be able to feel safe in school while these perpetrators are roaming the schools unchecked? The young boy and his family are seeking justice and we stand with them.”   

“This was a senseless, hate-motivated incident, and it has been felt by the entire Muslim community,” said Sheikh Jalil Marhnouj, Co-Chair of the UMO-OG. “No student should ever go through such a horrible experience. The United Muslim Organizations of Ottawa-Gatineau stands alongside the young boy and his family in demanding answers and accountability. We must ensure something like this never happens again.”  

“As Muslim youth living in Ottawa, we are horrified at the prospect of these perpetrators roaming free of any consequences for their crimes,” said Tabarak Al- Delaimi, co-founder of the OMYA. She is also a student trustee of the Ottawa Carleton District School Board (OCDSB).  

“How can we feel safe in our schools knowing that we may be attacked at any moment simply for our faith? How can we feel assured that our younger siblings and loved ones won’t face the same brutality? We want Ottawa to know that we will stand firmly by this young boy in his fight for justice and will continue to fight for the safety of Muslim youth in Ottawa.”  

We acknowledge that the Ottawa Police Services is investigating this attack as motivated by hate and has laid the relevant charges after calls from community organizations.   

We are also calling on the OCDSB to conduct a third-party investigation, including recommendations for systemic changes into how Gloucester H. S. and the board handled this incident and, in particular, why student safety and wellbeing were not addressed appropriately in the aftermath of this incident.   

All communities should continue to work together tirelessly to ensure the safety of those impacted by violence fueled by racism and hate across Ontario.