A White man wearing a hat with “Make America Great Again” (herein referred to as “MAGA”) written on it showed up at a peaceful prayer honoring victims of the New Zealand mosques tragedy at York University in Toronto on Monday.
Raneem Ayoub, a student at the university, shared a video of the incident on Twitter following the event. She alleged that the man came to disrupt the vigil “on purpose” and claimed he made insensitive comments, including calling it “meaningless.”
Brenton Harrison Tarrant, the alleged gunman and self-proclaimed ethno-nationalist, killed 50 people and wounded 50 others worshipping at the Al Noor and Lindwood mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, on March 15.
He reportedly released a 74-page manifesto in which he praised U.S. President Donald Trump as “a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose,” according to Aljazeera.
During his 2016 presidential campaign, Trump was scrutinized for his xenophobic talking points and his slogan, which has been linked to a resurgence of White nationalism. In January 2017, during his first days in office, an Executive Order was signed that banned foreign nationals from seven predominantly Muslim countries. Several critics asserted that these measures have incited the rise in hate crimes in recent years.
In the 14-second video clip, York University students are seen approaching the hat-wearing person. However, Ayoub asserted that out of respect for the victims, most people waited until the prayer was over to express their anger.
“During the prayer, he was arguing with the two men next to him,” the college student stated. “Everyone else at the vigil ignored him until the vigil was officially over (out of respect of the victims and the event). No one approached him and disturbed the vigil until it was finished.”
Students eventually made the unidentified man leave, and one is seen knocking off the hat.
Popular activist and Twitter user Simar shared why he feels the action should be seen as “terrorizing a community.”
“Showing up in a MAGA hat to a vigil honoring victims who were killed by a man who supported Trump is what terrorizing a community that is trying to heal looks like,” Simar tweeted. “Shame on this guy & props to each & every student that rejected his presence.”
There were no reports of altercations at the university during or after the vigil.