A Canadian landlord who was fined $12,000 for wearing shoes in a Muslim tenant's home said he felt "humiliated" by the harsh penalty levied by a national human rights tribunal.
In an interview with the Toronto Sun, John Alabi, 52, of Brampton, recounted how he went above and beyond trying to accommodate the Egyptian-born couple who lived in the apartment for two months – just to be slapped with a steep fine for the shoe incident.
"I go beyond all that. I just see everybody as human beings like me. That’s why I took them in," Alabi told the Toronto Sun in May. "We got along. And then all of a sudden I’m a racist?"
The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario ordered Alabi in April to pay the tenants $6,000 each after he failed to take his shoes off in the bedroom were the couple prayed while he was showing the home to potential renters. The couple, who moved into first floor of the home in December 2014, terminated their lease on Feb. 28, 2015.
The tribunal also said Alabi "harassed" the couple and "created a poisoned housing environment." Though he would give them 24-hour notice of the showing, he would often fail to provide a 5-minute warning, according to the Toronto Sun.
"I was humiliated, I was made to feel I have no rights, I was made to feel that I’m not wanted in society," Alabi said. "I feel powerless. They rented my place for only two months. Two months! It’s just not fair."
Alabi told the news site the couple never had an issue when he wore his shoes in the home to do repairs. Then they filed a grievance eight months after the last incident, the Toronto Sun reported.
"I have been victimized,” Alabi said. "They are using their religion to victimize me."
The couple even found a Facebook post on Alabi's page to help their case. The landlord claimed he doesn't have the money to pay the fine on top of legal fees.
"I don’t have the money. I work very hard. If they go into my bank account right now, I don’t have $12,000 there," Alabi said, adding that he has rented the space for 15 years to help pay his mortgage.
Last week news site Rebel News Service launched a crowdfunding page to help Alabi pay for the fine.