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‘Islamophobic and racist’ landlord is fined $12,000

‘Islamophobic and racist’ landlord is fined $12,000

Ontario landlord John Alabi, above, has been ordered to pay $12,000 dollars to two of his former tenants – a Muslim couple – for disrespecting their religion.

According to this report, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario found that he “harassed” Walid Madkour and his wife Heba Ismail and “created a poisoned housing environment” by failing to accommodate their religious practices when showing their apartment to prospective tenants.

Included in the complaint about Alabi’s behaviour was his alleged refusal to remove his shoes when he entered the couple’s bedroom, the room in which they prayed.  This, said Ismail:

Was disrespectful and an act of racism.

The couple also alleged that, even though Alabi gave them 24-hours’ notice of his intention to show prospective tenants around the ground floor of his Brampton home, he did not always provide the five-minute heads-up they’d requested to ensure the wife was modestly dressed and they weren’t in the midst of their five daily prayers.

In December 2014, the couple moved from Montreal into Alabi’s ground-floor apartment. Following several disputes, including the couple allegedly wanting their landlord to be quiet after 10 pm, they agreed to terminate the lease on February 28, 2015. At one point, when Madkour complained, Alabi texted a reply that said:

Welcome to Ontario.

Walid Madkour

In the meantime, Alabi tried to rent out the accommodation and In December 2014. It was during this period that Madkour alleged that Alabi’s behaviour amounted to:

Racism and violation of our civil rights.

Alabi told the hearing that his shoes had never been an issue before and accused his tenants of trying to set up roadblocks to his renting their flat. He also accused them of trying to impose their way of life on him and said:

The fact that someone belongs to a religion does not permit them to inconvenience others.

The tribunal didn’t see it that way — especially after the tenants introduced their landlord’s Facebook page that had a “joke” about a devout Arab Muslim that they found offensive.

Alabi told the hearing that he:

Had freedom of speech and could post what he wanted on his Facebook page … He did not share the post to attack anyone. He said he shared it only because it made him laugh.

But vice chair of the tribunal, Jo-Anne Pickel, saw it as further evidence of his bias.

When considered together, I find that the comment ‘welcome to Ontario, Canada,’ the making of loud pounding noises outside the applicants’ door shortly after making that comment, and (Alabi)’s refusal to remove his shoes when entering (their) prayer space amounted to harassment under the Code.

In addition to paying them $6,000 each for injury to their dignity, feelings and self-respect, Alabi must also take an e-learning course on “Human Rights in Rental Housing.”

11 responses to “‘Islamophobic and racist’ landlord is fined $12,000”

  1. gedediah says:

    They had a right to ‘quiet ejoyment’ of their home under the lease and he should have respected their wishes under that. They weren’t imposing their religion on him when asking him to respect the way they lived in their own home. He deserved to lose the case.

  2. Francis says:

    Ultra sensitive hair trigger muslims get their way again. And yet I am censured for complaining when early one morning at 0600hrs I find a scruffy muslim male complete with straggly fuzzy beard, knitted cap, long shirt type top and baggy above the ankle pants and very cocky arrogant attitude wanderinng around my courtyard at the end of a long obviously private gated drive down which he had decided to drive in his taxi when he was looking for an address at least half a mile away. I invited him to get off the property but he started bitching about me being a racist and an islamophobe. I invited him to leave again, slighty more insistently, but he was looking for confrontation … which he duly got. I am not racist, islam is not a race anyway, nor am I an islamophobe because fear of muslims is not irrational and therefore not a phobia. Anyone with a even a tiny smidgen of self preservation and survival instinct must surely raise their antenna when confronted with a shifty person snooping about unbidden around private propererty so early in the day. And yes I am wary of muslim men especially when they are caught where they should not be.

    Anyway, he said he would report me to the police for racist and threatening behaviour. “Yeah right. Just try that sunshine.” said I pointing at the security camera.

  3. jono says:

    I am insulted by islamic behaviour everyday. Everyday. Just go look at any news outlet and take a look.

  4. barriejohn says:

    I agree with @gedediah; annoying though these people may have been, the apartment was their home while they were renting it, and the landlord should have respected their wishes. He doesn’t really have a leg to stand on, whatever we may think of Islam and its adherents. Accusations of racism are par for the course, but I don’t think Pickel was accusing him of this, and they seem balanced by his accusations that his tenants were “imposing their way of life” on him, which is ridiculous.

  5. L.Long says:

    “Was disrespectful and an act of racism.” BFD! I DO NOT have the requirement to remove my shoes! That is YOUR problem and is NOT racist as isLame is a BS religion!
    BUT… for the rest…Can’t say for sure but the post seems to indicate he should have lost.

  6. Paul says:

    I agree with Barriejohn and Gedidiah – quiet enjoyment in lease terms and conditions is fundamental and that means not to be interfered with. And it sounds like he was the author of his own misfortune.
    And I have to agree that it’s correct to remove shoes when going in a bedroom that one rents and is legally only yours to do as one pleases and if that means no shoes that means no shoes.
    I no longer tolerate anyone coming into my home wearIng shoes.

  7. Laura Roberts says:

    I agree with Barriejohn, Gedidiah and Paul except the penalty was far too severe, and “disrespecting” someone’s religion is a lazy and utterly meaningless excuse for finding guilt. Being noisy, yes. Not removing shoes (not tracking dirt), fine. Social media isn’t relevant unless he was berating the couple there.

    A noisy landlord is annoying, but hardly the worst thing I’ve ever seen. Cockroaches, unsafe electrical wiring, unsafe plumbing, going without heat in freezing temperatures — all par for the course in my experience. Good god, have these tenants never rented an apartment before?

  8. barriejohn says:

    Laura: It does seem a ridiculous amount of money for the annoyance caused. However, I don’t see that disrespecting their religion – apart from the refusal to remove shoes in the bedroom – was an issue here. Madkour accuses the landlord of “racism and violation of our human rights”, and the tribunal fines him for “injury to their dignity, feelings and self-respect”, and that seems to sum it up. The racism allegation is, to me, a complete red herring, as no other evidence seems to have been forthcoming. However, I would be interested to know whether others would remove their footwear before entering a “place of worship” of any kind, as my own instinct would be to say: “I won’t come in then”, as I don’t recognize “sacred ground”. However, it used to be the custom for men to remove their headgear before entering ANY building, though not so much today*, but what about women being expected to wear a hat in church? I can imagine many saying, “Blow that for a game of soldiers”, and walking away if it caused offence. What do others think?

    *My father always did, and “doffed” his hat to the ladies when out shopping, which always seemed to flatter them!

  9. Trevor Blake says:

    Which race is Islam again?

  10. Dionigi says:

    @barriejohn. It rather depends on whether you wish to see the building. I agree with you that normally I would walk away but in certain cases i.e. the blue mosqe in Cairo, the temple of the emerald buddha in Bangkok, even cathedrals in Uk I have complied with the owners dress code to enable me to see the magnificent design and architecture.

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