In London, Ontario, doctor Tarek Loubani was charged with mischief after police say ketchup was sprayed on the office of London North Center MP Peter Fragiskatos following a pro-Palestinian protest last month.
According to police, just after 2 p.m. on Oct. 22, a group of people gathered outside an office in the 200 block of Hyman Street.
Loubani allegedly took a bottle of ketchup from a backpack and squirted it on the door and exterior of the building. He then passed bottles to three other men and “encouraged them to also deface the building,” a police media release said.
According to London police, 43-year-old Tarek Loubani has been charged with mischief after ketchup was sprayed on the office of London North Center MP Peter Fragiskatos on Sunday. (X)
Loubani appeared in court on Thursday afternoon via video from London police headquarters, where he had been held overnight.
He was released without conditions and will appear in court again on December 6th. Police said the three other men would not be charged.
“Based on what we know so far, what Dr. Loubani is said to have done – even if it had happened – no crime. Members of the public have the constitutional right to protest against their elected officials,” said Loubani’s lawyers, Arash Ghiassi and Riaz Sayani said in a statement.
Ghiassi and Sayani claimed that Loubani was detained overnight by police because he refused to agree to a condition that prevented him from protesting against Fragiskatos.
“The London Police force’s crackdown on political protests in this case is incompatible with the Charter right to freedom of expression,” their statement said.
Loubani, 42, works at the London Health Sciences Center and has worked in Gaza. He was also among 19 medics shot dead by the Israeli military in Gaza in 2018. He also works at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry and is known for his work in 3D printing medical devices.
“As this matter is currently before the courts, we cannot comment on this specific situation. However, we can confirm that Dr. Tarek Loubani currently enjoys privileges at the London Health Sciences Centre,” an LHSC spokesperson said in a statement.
Today I am arrested by the police in London, Canada. The police will put me in prison indefinitely because I will not stop protesting against MP Peter Fragiskatos, who refuses to call for a ceasefire against civilians in Gaza. What happens. What you can do. A 🧵
On Wednesday, Loubani posted on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, that he would be arrested.
In his post, Loubani said he took part in the protest because Fragiskatos “refused to call for a ceasefire against civilians in Gaza.”
Like Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Fragiskatos faced increasing pressure to call for a ceasefire. Trudeau instead called for a “permanent humanitarian pause” in the bombings.
More than 30 MPs, including 23 Liberals, recently wrote a letter to Trudeau urging him to call for a ceasefire. The signatories included two London MPs, Liberal Arielle Kayabaga and New Democrat Lindsay Matheyssen.
About a dozen people spent the day outside the office of Liberal Prime Minister Peter Fragiskatos, urging him to pressure the government to call for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war. (Michael Lacasse/CBC News)
Nehal Al Tarhuni, president of the Canadian Palestinian Social Association, called Loubani’s allegations a waste of resources and taxpayers’ money.
“We are of the opinion that Dr. Loubani should now be working in the hospital and taking care of his patients, not sitting in a jail cell on ketchup charges,” Al Tarhuni told CBC London ahead of Loubani’s court appearance.
“Our tax dollars are better… when they are spent on police doing what they need to do in terms of their job, which is keeping the city safe, and that doesn’t mean keeping the city safe. “
Al Tarhuni accused Fragiskatos of ignoring his constituents’ calls for a ceasefire and instead “spending his energy on issuing media releases about the ketchup on his building.”
“What I’m hearing from the community in his riding is that several emails and phone calls have been made, [and] He didn’t bother to reply and when he did reply it was a general email sent to everyone.
Speaking to CBC London, Fragiskatos declined to comment specifically on Loubani’s arrest, but dismissed Al Tarhuni’s claim that he had ignored voters.
“I have had many phone calls over the last few weeks, and particularly this week, with members of the community who want the Canadian government to call for a ceasefire. These discussions will continue,” he said.
The office of London North Center MP Peter Fragiskatos is seen here after what his office says was vandalism on Thursday evening. (Office of Peter Fragiskatos)
Fragiskatos said his office has subsequently experienced incidents of vandalism and a recent incident in which someone attempted to “forcibly enter and occupy the office.”
“Who knows what might have happened at that point? The safety of our staff would certainly have been compromised and that is unacceptable,” he said.
“For this reason, I did not have any discussions with those who protested outside the office. But I have had many, many conversations with Londoners who want to talk to me and believe that Canada should call a ceasefire.”