Popular Syrian restaurant in Toronto closes due to hate messages and death threats

Codi Wilson, InternetNews Toronto

Published Tuesday, October 8, 2019 1:00PM EDT

Last Updated Tuesday, October 8, 2019 2:43PM EDT

TORONTO — The house owners of a preferred Syrian restaurant in Toronto say they are going to be completely closing store after their household and employees obtained “numerous hate messages” and death threats over the previous week.

Soufi’s, a widely known Queen West restaurant operated by a Syrian household who lately immigrated to Canada, got here below hearth final week after the son of the restaurant’s house owners was concerned in an incident outdoors of a fundraiser in Hamilton for Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party of Canada (PPC).

Video circulating on-line confirmed an aged girl being harassed by protesters outdoors Mohawk College, the place the occasion was held on Sept. 29.

A line of protesters blocked her from coming into the constructing and some demonstrators reportedly referred to as the aged girl “Nazi scum.”

Hamilton police later confirmed that they had been investigating the incident and mentioned expenses could also be pending.

After studying of the incident, Bernier despatched out a number of tweets in assist of the girl.

“Thank you so much Madam for standing up for free speech,” the politician tweeted. “We need courageous people like you if we are to keep our country STRONG and FREE.”



Thank you a lot Madam for standing up at no cost speech!

We want brave folks such as you if we’re to maintain our nation STRONG and FREE. https://t.co/Z672PFnAFc

— Maxime Bernier (@MaximeBernier) October 1, 2019

In an apology printed on Facebook days later, the restaurant confirmed that the house owners’ son Alaa was one of many protesters on the occasion.

“We would like to formally apologize for the incident that occurred with the elderly woman. Alaa regrets that he did not step aside and/ or stand up against the act of verbal abuse that occurred against her, and would love the opportunity to personally extend his apologies to her,” the household mentioned, including that their son didn’t in any manner verbally or bodily assault the aged girl.

“Our family and business do not condone acts of hate, violence or harassment in any shape or form, and advocate for peace, equality and free speech for all human beings. Our family immigrated to Canada with the intention of living and working peacefully.”

Husam and Shahnaz Alsoufi and two of their kids moved to Canada in October 2015 to be part of their daughter Jala, who moved to Toronto three years earlier to attend the University of Toronto.

The household mentioned they had been impressed to open the restaurant to share their love of Syrian tradition, music, and “delicious homemade food.”


The house owners mentioned the restaurant, which supplied conventional Syrian road meals, was the primary of its form in Toronto when it opened in 2017 and the restaurant attracted a substantial quantity of buzz from foodies at house and overseas.

The Syrian spot was featured in Toronto Life, Now Magazine, and was even profiled in an article by the New York Times, which referred to the restaurant’s meals as Toronto’s “new craving.”

But after greater than two years in enterprise, the restaurant confirmed Tuesday that it may now not proceed to function.


“As a result of numerous hate messages & death threats we’ve received over the past week, we’ve decided to permanently close our shop. Our decision is made with a heavy heart in (an) effort to maintain our family and staff’s safety,” a press release posted on Soufi’s Instagram account learn.

Patrons of the store reacted to the information with disappointment and expressed assist for the household.

“I am so sad and infuriated about this,” one Instagram person mentioned in response to the assertion. “I’m angry the police hasn’t offered more: they should be helping to protect your business.”

Another patron wrote, “I hope (it’s) solved soon and we can all enjoy your amazing manakeesh again. So sorry you have to go through this.”

In their assertion saying the closure, the restaurant house owners thanked their clients and neighbours for the assist over the previous two years.

“We would additionally like to prolong our love & appreciation to our fantastic employees, who’ve invariably embodied the onerous work, dedication, ardour and graciousness of Syrian newcomers.”


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