Today marks a pivotal moment in a case that has captured national attention, as a man who admitted to an incel-inspired murder at a Toronto massage parlour is set to be sentenced. The offender, who cannot be named due to his age at the time of the crime, pleaded guilty last year to the murder of 24-year-old Ashley Noelle Arzaga and the attempted murder of a woman identified as J.C. in February 2020.
Incel Ideology as Terrorism
In a historic ruling, Justice Sukhail Akhtar declared the stabbing as an act of terrorism linked to the incel ideology, a term derived from “involuntary celibate.” This fringe internet subculture is primarily composed of men expressing hostility towards women for their lack of sexual relationships. This case is believed to be Canada’s first judicial recognition of incel-motivated terrorist activity.
The prosecution and defense present contrasting positions on the sentencing. The defense seeks sentencing under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, which would limit the term to 10 years, in addition to the three years already served. However, prosecutors advocate for adult sentencing, emphasizing the perpetrator’s near-adult age at the time and his meticulous planning, which they argue demonstrates adult-like decision-making and a lack of remorse.
The Offender’s Apology and Change
At a recent hearing, the now 20-year-old man expressed regret, apologizing to Arzaga’s family and friends and to the survivor, J.C. He conveyed a change in his views, stating, “I’ve come to realize that life is so much more than just internet negativity … I wish I could travel back in time and talk some sense into my former self.”
The Attack and its Aftermath
The court learned that the assailant had been radicalized online and planned to attack women with a 17-inch sword. J.C. bravely managed to disarm and incapacitate him, ending the attack but suffering significant injuries, including stab wounds and nerve damage. The impact of this violence was further highlighted in the victim impact statements of Arzaga’s siblings, who urged the court to consider the safety of women in its sentencing decision.
Implications of the Case
This sentencing is not just a legal procedure but a statement against misogynistic violence and terrorism. It underscores the dangerous consequences of radical ideologies spread online and the need for awareness and preventative measures. The decision will also set a precedent for how Canadian courts perceive and handle crimes influenced by extremist online subcultures.