Quebec City police arrest suspects in torching of Muslim man’s car

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Quebec City police have arrested two suspects in connection with the torching of a car belonging to the director of a local Muslim community centre, the force announced Friday. The two men arrested were neighbours of the director, and while the men, age 33 and 44, do not belong to an “ideological group” espousing racism, they will be charged with a hate crime, as Muslims were targeted, police said. The 33-year-year old suspect, Mathieu Bilodeau, was charged with four counts of lighting criminal fires. The man’s suspected accomplice was to be charged at a later time.

But while the case may have focused attention on the number of perceived hate crimes taking place in the provincial capital, police spokesperson Jean-François Vézina told reporters Friday morning that the car fire on Aug. 6 was one of five that had been deliberately set over a four-week period. The remaining four had been set in containers near a commercial centre and a local restaurant.

“The suspect in question is a resident of (the Quebec City borough of) Ste-Foy,” said Vézina. “It seems the man has an attraction to fire and isn’t a member of any group.”

A second man believed to have been the suspect’s accomplice was arrested Friday morning.

A car belonging to Mohamed Labidi, the president of the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec, was set on fire on Aug. 6. A few days later, excrement was thrown at the doors of the mosque, according to a statement published by the mosque on its Facebook page.

The men arrested Friday lived in the same neighbourhood as Labidi. Police said they did not know it was Labidi’s car, but they did mean to target a Muslim.

The incident occurred only days after Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume announced an agreement with the mosque on the creation of a new Muslim cemetery in the city.

 Source: http://montrealgazette.com

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