Toronto police investigate ad truck with anti-Muslim messaging

Toronto police investigate ad truck with anti-Muslim messaging

The Toronto police hate crimes unit is investigating after video surfaced online of a mobile advertising truck displaying anti-Muslim digital images and messages.

In videos posted to social media, the truck appears to display a series of questions that say: “Is this Lebanon? Is this Yemen? Is this Syria? Is this Iraq?”

The truck then displays images of what appears to be Muslims praying and protesting in Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto. Palestinian flags and the square’s concrete arches are visible in the images.

The messages on the truck then say: “No. This is Canada. Wake up Canada. You are under siege.”

The lettering is in blue on a white background and clearly visible from several meters away.

Police are urging members of the public to come forward if they have information or video footage of the truck.

“We recognize the community’s concern about a truck displaying Islamophobic messaging in Toronto,” police said in a post on X, formerly Twitter, on Wednesday.

Mobile advertising truck 1

The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), a non-profit organization that describes itself as a ‘leading voice for Muslim civic engagement,’ says the messaging on the truck is designed to incite a fear of Muslims in Canada. (@SURJto/X)

Advocates have slammed the messaging as racist.

Amira Elghawaby, Canada’s Special Representative on Combatting Islamophobia, said in an interview on Wednesday that she was surprised and disappointed when she heard about the messaging on the truck and believes it should be widely condemned.

“This type of messaging really does send quite an unfortunate message of division and hate,” she said, adding it has no place in Canada.

“Sadly, Islamophobia and now anti-Palestinian racism, anti-Arab racism, these are not new phenomena. The forms that they can take can differ. What is most alarming, of course, is when they lead to Islamophobic, anti-Palestinian, anti-Arab violence.”

‘This needs to stop now’

In a post on

“This clear incitement to hate Muslims is deeply worrying given the ongoing violence that our communities continue to experience, including most recently an arson in London, Ontario, as well as physical assaults of visibly Muslim women in Scarborough, Halifax, Ottawa, and elsewhere, “Elghawaby said earlier on X.

“We do not want to see another Quebec mosque massacre, or Our London Family attack. We have already lost too many of our community members to deadly Islamophobic hate.”

Amira Elghawaby is Canada’s Special Representative on Combatting Islamophobia.

Amira Elghawaby, Canada’s Special Representative on Combatting Islamophobia, says: ‘This type of messaging really does send quite an unfortunate message of division and hate.’ (Amanda Margison/CBC)

The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), a non-profit organization that describes itself as a “leading voice for Muslim civic engagement,” said in a post on X Tuesday that the messaging on the truck is designed to incite a fear of Muslims in Canada.

“This is extremely dangerous messaging, and should not be condoned. We have seen Islamophobic hate killing in Canada, including in Ontario,” the NCCM said.

“This public campaign is pure Islamophobia and hate,” the NCCM continued.

“We are expecting all of our leaders to condemn this form of hate in Toronto. This needs to stop now.”

The city, for its part, said in a statement on Wednesday that it opposes all forms of hate.

“The City of Toronto will not tolerate, ignore, or condone discrimination or harassment and is committed to promoting respectful conduct, tolerance and inclusion,” the statement reads. “The City of Toronto remains committed to saying no to all forms of discrimination and racism.”

The city said its Toronto For All public education campaign focused on Islamophobia last summer to raise awareness and provide resources on how to be an ally.

If residents see “hate graffiti,” the city said it encourages them to report it to 311. It added that it has developed an online package of resources at toronto.ca/StopHate that includes, among other things, information on how to report hate crimes, resources for communities experiencing hate and best practices that promote community safety.