Toronto devastated after Syrian restaurant closes because of death threats
In a public statement, Soufi's announced they'd be closing due to being bombarded with hateful messages and death threats after the owner's son got caught up in a protest outside a Maxime Bernier PPC event in Hamilton.
A video of an altercation at the protest involving 81-year-old Dorothy Marston went viral online, and social media users identified one of the protesters as the son of Soufi's owner.
His name was then passed along through alt-right and anti-immigrant Facebook groups such as Yellow Vests Canada and Rise Canada, and hateful messages began to pour in.
"As a result of numerous hate messages and death threats we've received over the past week, we've decided to permanently close our shop," a statement on the restaurant's Instagram page reads.
"Our decision is made with a heavy heart in effort to maintain our family and staff's safety."
Soufi's was founded by a family of Syrian refugees back in 2017, and they brought authentic Syrian food to their Queen West neighbourhood.
Now, Toronto is taking to social media to express their frustration, sadness and anger about the fact that Soufi's is being forced to close because of an overwhelming amount of hatred.
This is heartbreaking and upsetting. Soufi’s on Queen West is closing. pic.twitter.com/aMzmYjN56i— Suresh Doss (@Suresh) October 8, 2019
"Soufi's was an incredible place to eat. The Turkish coffee was unbelievable, food was delicious, and service always warm and welcoming. This is a loss for the city," Alexandra Tamiko Da Dalt tweeted.
Many are saying the whole incident doesn't align with what Canada stands for, and that we must band together to help the Al Soufi family in their time of need.
I refuse to live in a city where a successful business shuts down because of threats from racist, xenophobic, ignorant, bigoted thugs. We need to offer our support to this family, WE NEED TO DO BETTER AS A SOCIETY. This is just upsetting and disgusting. BRING #SOUFIS BACK! https://t.co/s8q5v0njzK— محمد علي (@eegyptiann) October 8, 2019
Even the Prime Minister tweeted his thoughts about the news.
Hatred and threats of violence have no place in Canada. We are always stronger together than when we're divided. https://t.co/vnGmX1vts9— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) October 9, 2019
According to Global News reporter Kamil Karamali, Toronto residents are even dropping off notes and flowers in support of the restaurant and the Al Soufi family.
Karamali also tweeted screenshots of some of the death threats the family received, and they're disturbing to say the least.
Here are some of the death threats the Al-Soufi family have received since their son was caught in a viral video at an #antifa protest in Hamilton. They’ve shut down their popular restaurant as a result of the threats. #Soufis pic.twitter.com/7NflrMx0Bn— Kamil Karamali (@KamilKaramali) October 8, 2019
In light of this, many are emphasizing the need to accept differences of opinion without expressing hatred and racism in return.
Hey fellow Canadians. Being a multicultural society doesn’t mean that we always agree. But it does mean that we *coexist*, and try to include newcomers. I never even got a chance to visit this café. Death threats are unacceptable, and this is utterly shameful. #Soufis #cdnpoli https://t.co/WrOlmnqdLM— Hippy Squirrel 🎃🖤🐿 (@HippySquirrel) October 8, 2019
And some are even inviting Soufi's to open a new location in a different neighbourhood.
Dear @soufis_to please come & open in Rexdale. We don’t care what religion, colour or race you are there— Beth W (@bunnyette) October 8, 2019
One can only hope that with all the love and support currently pouring out for Soufi's, hateful messages will cease and there will be a new spot for oven-cooked manakeesh flatbreads soon enough.
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