- A Syrian family will soon reopen its beloved Toronto restaurant after receiving a deluge of hateful and xenophobic threats in response to their son attending an antifa protest.
- The owner of Soufi’s says he wants to send the message that immigrant-owned businesses are welcome in Canada’s largest city.
- The controversy began earlier in October when a video went viral showing antifa protesters blocking the path of an elderly woman with a walker, who was trying to attend an event for a far-right Canadian leader.
- One of the protesters was Alaa Alsoufi, the son of the man who owns Soufi’s, and the family has since apologized for his role in the protests. They have denied he verbally or physically assaulted the woman.
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A Syrian family temporarily closed a beloved Toronto restaurant this week after receiving a deluge of xenophobic death threats in response to their son attending an antifa protest.
The family pledged Thursday to reopen Soufi’s restaurant on Friday and send a message that immigrant-owned businesses are welcome in Canada’s largest city.
“We do not want to set an example for future immigrants and refugee business owners as the business that gave in to hate,” restaurant owner Husam Alsoufi said at a news conference on Thursday.
He said he intends to rehire all nine staffers who were laid off earlier in the week.
The controversy began earlier in October when a video went viral showing antifa protesters blocking the path of an elderly woman with a walker, who was trying to enter an event for the Canadian politician Maxime Bernier, who leads a newly formed far-right party.
The video shows masked demonstrators chanting “Nazi scum, off our streets” in the woman’s face.
7 million views on this video. pic.twitter.com/PfPrHIXryN
— Dave Rubin (@RubinReport) October 2, 2019
Soufi’s had previously made international headlines as a symbol of Canada’s acceptance of Syrian immigrants
Not long after the video made headlines, Soufi’s released a statement saying the family’s son, Alaa Alsoufi, had been one of the protesters.
“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 Alsoufis said in a statement, according to a screenshot on blogTO. “That said, we affirm that he did not in any way verbally or physically assault the elderly woman or any other person.”
Soufi’s had previously garnered international acclaim as a symbol of Canada’s acceptance of Syrian refugees – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau admitted some 25,000 refugees in 2015. The New York Times even profiled the Alsoufis in an article last year discussing the integration of Syrian food into Toronto’s trendy restaurant scene.
But immediately after the incident with Alaa Alsoufi, the restaurant was flooded with violent threats and hateful messages, which Toronto police are reportedly investigating.
But the family of the elderly woman in the video, 81-year-old Dorothy Marston, has since condemned the hatred directed towards the Alsoufis.
“Anybody that would ever threaten that poor gentleman [the elder Alsoufi] is a disgrace to Canada,” David Turkoski, Marston’s son, told The Globe and Mail. “We should never penalize a hard-working immigrant family because he has a son … I’m not going to back everything my children have done.”
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