Syrian Family Restaurant to Re-Open After Hate Mail and Death Threats
Just a few days after Husam Al-Soufi announced that death threats and hate mail were forcing him to close down his family’s Syrian restaurant, Soufi’s, a prominent philanthropist and immigrant has stepped in to help.
Mohamad Fakih, the Toronto businessman and founder of Paramount Fine Foods, announced he would use his resources to manage the restaurant and help the Al-Soufi family to open the business once again.
“Hate messages & death threats sent to refugee immigrants is absolutely unacceptable,” Fakih wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.
“The extra legal funds needed to defend their rights is unnecessary, burdens them with another challenge. We need to keep Canada welcoming.”
The Al-Soufi family, who came to Canada from Syria and opened the restaurant in 2014, became involved in controversy last week when the family’s son, Alaa, was reportedly involved in a protest and confrontation outside of an event for People’s Party of Canada leader, Maxime Bernier. A video of an elderly woman being harassed outside the venue emerged online. While Alaa denies being one of the protesters who hurled assaults at the woman, the family says he regrets not stopping the behaviour.
“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 family said in a statement on Facebook.
Still, the family restaurant was targeted and eventually forced to close.
On the Soufi’s Instagram account it read, “We are heartbroken about having to make this decision; however, we could not put our family members, staff, and patrons in danger. The magnitude of hate we are facing is overwhelming.”
Since the incident, the Al-Soufi family has reached out to the elderly woman and her family to apologize. Husam says he had a wonderful, positive phone call with the woman’s son, David Turkoski.
With Fakih’s help and now an outpouring of support from the community, Husam says his faith in others is being restored.
“We know this hate does not reflect the people of Toronto. The people of Toronto are loving, welcoming people. We have heard from countless community members and organizations who have restored our faith in the city,” the family said.
As for Fakih, he says, “I will stand beside them and we will all stand beside them. Anyone who comes to Canada to start a business should never be treated that way.”
“We are going to be sending a message that hate will never win in Canada.”