Man who set fire to mosque gets 2 years

Mem­ber­ship for­gives Keith Fred­er­ick af­ter he apol­o­gizes, but judge in­sists on de­ter­rence

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL - CARMELA FRAGOMENI cfragomeni@thes­pec.com 905-526-3392 | @Car­matTheSpec

A judge ac­knowl­edged the for­give­ness of the Mus­lim com­mu­nity be­fore sen­tenc­ing a man who started a small fire at a city mosque last fall but said the pun­ish­ment still re­quires a sig­nif­i­cant sen­tence.

Judge Martha Zivolak sen­tenced Keith Fred­er­ick to 25 months for com­mit­ting ar­son by set­ting a fire to the front door of the Ibrahim Jam-E mosque on Sept. 14.

Given 12 months credit for the time that he spent in cus­tody since his ar­rest right af­ter the fire, Fred­er­ick has 12 months and three days left.

The dam­age to the mosque was min­i­mal since passersby no­ticed and called 911 while they and neigh­bours used buck­ets to put the fire out just af­ter 11 p.m.

But court heard in a vic­tim im­pact state­ment read out by mosque fi­nan- cial di­rec­tor Sayed Hashemi in March that the reper­cus­sions have been sig­nif­i­cant, with fear the driv­ing fac­tor in dras­ti­cally re­duc­ing the num­ber of peo­ple now at­tend­ing the mosque.

Out­side court Wed­nes­day, Hashemi said the mosque has lost $4,000 a month in the do­na­tions it runs on.

Hashemi, Imam Ay­man AlTa­her and Mus­lim Coun­cil of Greater Hamil­ton chair Ali Ghouse said the city’s Mus­lim com­mu­nity has for­given Fred­er­ick.

Al-Ta­her said he is en­cour­aged that Fred­er­ick “has un­der­stood he has done wrong and is reach­ing out to the Mus­lim com­mu­nity.”

“We’re not about pun­ish­ing. We’re about rec­on­cil­i­a­tion … liv­ing in har­mony. This is our hope.”

Ghouse said, “The in­ci­dent im­pacted every­one in the city. Hamil­ton has 30,000 Mus­lims.”

But he said Fred­er­ick demon­strated two im­por­tant things: re­morse and a will­ing­ness to learn about Is­lam.

Fred­er­ick pleaded guilty on March 20, but was sen­tenced on Wed­nes­day af­ter a pre-sen­tence re­port and de­fence and Crown sub­mis­sions last week.

Zivolak said Fred­er­ick’s guilty plea showed a sig­nif­i­cant amount of re­morse, but that re­morse was “made true” by his apol­ogy to the mosque mem­bers and the Mus­lim com­mu­nity in a meet­ing last week be­fore his court ap­pear­ance.

She also noted his dif­fi­cul­ties in life, in­clud­ing a dys­func­tional up­bring­ing, strug­gles with al­co­hol, anx­i­ety and de­pres­sion.

But Zivolak also said, “It’s clear this is a crime based on prej­u­dice and hate”.

As such, it re­quires a sig­nif­i­cant sen­tence, she said.

Fred­er­ick is also pro­hib­ited from own­ing in­cen­di­ary de­vices dur­ing a three-year pro­ba­tion­ary pe­riod. He’s barred from own­ing weapons for life. He is also not per­mit­ted within 100 me­tres of any mosque in the city.

Imam Ay­man Al-Tahir

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