Canadian university evacuated over anti-Muslim bomb threat

Montreal, QC, CanadaUpdated: Mar 02, 2017, 01:52 AM IST
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Concordia University is located in downtown Montreal, one of Canada's largest cities. It is in the province of Quebec, where in January a Trump supporter murdered six Muslims praying inside a mosque. Photo source: Wikimedia via Jeangagnon. Photograph:(Others)

A bomb threat targeting Muslim students forced an evacuation of nearly 4,000 students from the downtown campus of Concordia University in Montreal.

In an email to school administrators and also to local media, a group identifying itself as the "underground" chapter of C4, or the Council of Conservative Citizens of Canada, at the university directly warned "Muslim students" there it would detonate one homemade explosive a day through Friday to protest their activities.

"Now that President (Donald) Trump is in office south of the border, things have changed. We will not tolerate your behaviour anymore," the group said in its emailed letter, referring to the US president.

"Until Concordia University stops religious activities of all kinds on campus, we decide the following action to show how far we are ready to go to fight Muslims," the group vowed.

Montreal police said they were investigating the "threatening email". They swept the campus for explosives but found none.

A similar threatening letter was also sent to nearby McGill University, which was put on heightened alert, but it did not specify a time or place of a possible attack.

Three Concordia University buildings were evacuated just before midday, and would remain closed until around 6:00 pm (local time), Concordia spokeswoman Christine Mota said. CBC reports that by 7:00 pm (local time) all buildings at Concordia University had reopened, and students were back inside.

One of the sites was hosting an "Islam awareness week". Quebec Universities Minister Helene David, speaking to reporters at the scene, called the threat against Muslim students "deplorable".

"We strongly denounce these attacks against a university which is a model of living together," she said. "Quebec is an inclusive place," the minister added. "We want to live together. We will not tolerate this kind of situation."

There has been an escalation of hate crimes in the country in recent months. In January, a white supremacist student, who "liked" Donald Trump on Facebook, shot dead six worshippers at a mosque in Quebec City.

CBC reports that police constable Boisselle said investigators are now looking for the main computer which sent the threatening emails. "We don't take anything for granted," they quote him as saying. The report also states they will increase patrols of private security officers, as well as police, since the threatening email mentioned a 48-hour window.

(With inputs from AFP)