A popular Syrian restaurant in Toronto announced that it will reopen for business Friday, days after it shut down when staff began fielding hateful messages and death threats.
Husam Alsoufi, owner of Soufi’s restaurant on Queen Street West, and Paramount Fine Foods CEO Mohamad Fakih made the announcement at a news conference Thursday.
Fakih said he’s stepping in with his team to help Soufi’s reopen.
“Soufi’s restaurant will reopen on Friday morning,” Fakih told reporters. “We are going to send a message that hate will never win in Canada.”
Alsoufi said the public reaction from Soufi’s closing was “beyond what we imagined.”
“We received hundreds of heartfelt messages from all over Canada offering their support,” Alsoufi told reporters.
The Alsoufi family filed a complaint with police Wednesday afternoon — a day after announcing they were closing Soufi’s restaurant on Queen Street West, which had been celebrated locally and internationally not just for its food but as evidence of the success of Canada’s refugee resettlement program after its opening in 2017.
Husam and Shahnaz Alsoufi came to Canada after they and their three children were sponsored by a community group in 2015. Soufi’s was among the restaurants profiled in a New York Times story last year showcasing the budding Syrian culinary scene in Greater Toronto. It has also been featured in Toronto Life, Now Magazine and the Star.
“The success of this restaurant has become a reflection of how welcoming we are as a society,” Fakih said.
But when one of Alsoufi’s sons, Alaa, attended a Hamilton fundraiser for People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier on Sept. 29 wearing a face mask, a new storyline emerged.
A video that went viral showed a group blocking an older woman using a walker from entering the event at Mohawk College. Some protesters could be heard shouting Nazi slurs at people trying to enter the venue, including the elder woman.
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