The latest on Soufi’s Restaurant is that Alaa Al Soufi has been arrested. Find out more.
In an earlier story, we ran through the tangled tale of the closing and reopening of Soufi’s Restaurant. That’s the trendy Queen Street West café owned by a Syrian refugee family. It made the news when it closed and reopened in the same week. The family had endured online trolling, death threats and a physical assault against one of their sons, Alaa Al Soufi.
Today, the Hamilton Police Service is reporting that they have arrested Alaa. He is charged with one count of causing a disturbance, two counts of intimidation and two counts of wearing a disguise. Two other men are also facing charges. They are Kevin Metcalf and Maximiliano Hererra.
The Hamilton Police Service has arrested Alaa
Alaa was one of about 100 demonstrators protesting a People’s Party of Canada speaking event during the election campaign. The event took place at Mohawk College in Hamilton last September 29th. Police arrested four people on the night of the rally and released them unconditionally a few hours later.
The police service continued investigating the demonstration in the weeks that followed. They report that they reviewed “numerous hours of video from a number of sources including media and social media footage.” Officers saw criminal offenses taking place and identified suspects in the footage.
The charges against Alaa stem from an incident at the rally. A group of three masked demonstrators allegedly prevented 81-year-old Dorothy Marsden and her husband from accessing the McIntyre Performing Arts Centre on the Mohawk College Campus. She was using a walker. One of the protestors reportedly called her “Nazi scum.”
Alaa is in the photo as the incident takes place
In a photograph taken that night, Alaa is there as the incident takes place. He is wearing a mask and is one of three young men in the photo standing in front of Ms. Marsden and her husband. Alaa is to their left with his hands in his pockets. He seems to be conversing with Mr. Marsden.
In an earlier statement, the family who owns Soufi’s Restaurant said, “He did not in any way verbally or physically assault the elderly woman and has nonetheless offered to apologize personally for not doing more.”
The Al Soufi family has filed a hate crime complaint
Alaa and the other suspects will appear for a bail hearing later today at the John Sopinka Court House in Hamilton. Meanwhile, the Al Soufi family has filed a hate crime complaint with the Toronto Police Service.
They cite the harassment, credible threats and the physical assault that they allegedly endured. They report that it all happened after word got out that Alaa was one of the demonstrators. Police are investigating those allegations, as well.
We’ll learn more as Alaa’s case progresses. When he has his day in court, it will become clearer what role, if any, he allegedly played in obstructing and/or insulting Dorothy Marsden.
The two families have reached out to one another to make amends
On a more positive note, the two families have reached out to one another to make amends. The families met at Soufi’s Restaurant as a gesture of reconciliation. On October 12th, Ms. Marsden’s son, David Turkoski, tweeted, “What a wonderful privilege and honour it was to meet Mr. and Mrs. Soufi. They are an amazing addition to my Canadian family. Reason and tolerance without screaming and fear is what we need. Fears have to be addressed, or they grow. I now have a fellow Harley riding brother.”
Back on October 11th, Alaa’s father, Husam Al Soufi, said his son was interested in “trying to support marginalized people.” He admitted that Alaa had made mistakes, adding that he had learned his lesson “the hard way.”