Man says sorry for try­ing to burn down mosque

Con­victed ar­son­ist meets with Mus­lim lead­ers be­fore court hear­ing

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL - CARMELA FRAGOMENI cfragomeni@thes­ 905-526-3392 | @Car­matTheSpec

A man who bragged of bring­ing his own ji­had against Mus­lims and then set fire to a Hamil­ton mosque apol­o­gized to lo­cal Mus­lim lead­ers in a pri­vate meet­ing at the court­house on Thurs­day.

Keith Fred­er­ick, 35, met with the lead­ers in his hold­ing cell be­fore be­ing brought into a court­room for his sen­tenc­ing hear­ing.

Fred­er­ick, given an op­por­tu­nity to ad­dress the court, said he met Mus­lim com­mu­nity el­ders and mosque mem­bers. “I ex­pressed my need for for­give­ness. I apol­o­gized to the lead­ers.”

Ay­man Al-Taher, imam at Ibrahim Jam-E Mosque, told The Spec­ta­tor the Mus­lim Coun­cil of Greater Hamil­ton agreed “to ex­tend a hand to Fred­er­ick if he re­gret­ted his ac­tions and was will­ing to change his per­cep­tions.”

“The act of for­give­ness and help­ing wrong­do­ers to change is rooted in Mus­lim be­lief,” Al-Taher said.

“My take is we’re not about re­venge or caus­ing more dam­age.”

Fred­er­ick pleaded guilty on March 20 to ar­son for set­ting fire to the front door of the Ibrahim Jam-E Mosque on King Street East, near San­ford Av­enue, shortly af­ter 11 p.m. on Sept. 14.

Dam­age from the fire was min­i­mal be­cause passersby and neigh­bours no­ticed the flames im­me­di­ately and called 911. They put out the fire with buck­ets of wa­ter be­fore emer­gency ser­vices ar­rived.

But the fire cre­ated a deep sense of fear, ap­pre­hen­sion and anx­i­ety among mosque mem­bers, a vic­tim im­pact state­ment told court the day of Fred­er­ick’s guilty plea.

In court Thurs­day, Fred­er­ick told Jus­tice Martha Zivolak he was sorry for what he did.

“I thought many times about what hap­pened,” he said. “I thought it was all a dream … When I re­al­ized what I’d done, I felt shame.”

Crown prose­cu­tor Todd Nor­man called for Fred­er­ick to be sen­tenced to two to two-and-a-half years. Nor­man ar­gued the sig­nif­i­cant time was ap­pro­pri­ate given that “this is a hate crime,” which re­quires a stiff penalty.

Nor­man pointed to text mes­sages po­lice found be­tween Fred­er­ick and his un­cle in the three weeks be­fore the ar­son. In some, Fred­er­ick said: “I’ll bring my own ji­had to those camel f---ers”; “Wish I could get my hands on some dy­na­mite”; and “The place of their wor­ship is burn­ing tonight.”

“He planned over a two-week pe­riod. He sought ex­plo­sives, firearms, and ul­ti­mately re­sorted to what he has ac­cess to, and that is ga­so­line,” the prose­cu­tor said. “There was de­lib­er­ate plan­ning to do harm to the Mus­lim com­mu­nity … his ac­tions were mo­ti­vated by prej­u­dice and bias.”

Fred­er­ick’s at­tempt to de­stroy a place of wor­ship “un­der­mines the free­dom of re­li­gion that Cana­di­ans cher­ish,” Nor­man added. “Peo­ple should be safe in their place of wor­ship.”

Fred­er­ick’s lawyer, Vikram Singh, sug­gested a sen­tence be­tween the eight months his client has al­ready served and the Crown’s pro­posal.

He said Fred­er­ick has an al­co­hol is­sue and suf­fers from de­pres­sion and anx­i­ety. Singh also said the Hamil­ton na­tive didn’t know his fa­ther un­til he was 13. Af­ter at­tend­ing St. He­len’s Catholic ele­men­tary school, he went to Bap­tist Acad­emy, where “he was pun­ished with phys­i­cal force.”

Singh said the meet­ing with Mus­lim el­ders “went well.”

Out­side court, he de­scribed it as “a re­ally pos­i­tive in­ter­ac­tion.”

Fred­er­icks re­turns for sen­tenc­ing Wed­nes­day.

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