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Daily News Analysis

Peterborough, ON Mosque arson attack roundly condemned

Crescent International

The arson attack at the sole mosque in Peterborough, ON, has been roundly condemned by a wide spectrum of the political leadership in Canada, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Equally impressive, residents of the city have already raised $110,000 for the mosque's repair and churches have offered the small mosque community space to conduct prayers until the mosque is ready for use. Now that is true fellowship!


Monday November 16, 2015, 21:33 EST

The Masjid al-Salaam in Peterborough, ON, that was subjected to an arson attack on Saturday November 14 night is being considered a hate crime. A burning gas-filled bottle was thrown inside the masjid by breaking a window. It set the carpet on fire. The attack occurred soon after a gathering celebrating the birth of a baby, had dispersed in the small community.

Damage was estimated at $80,000.

A passing motorist noticed smoke coming out of the building. He immediately called the fire department. By the time the mosque management arrived at the scene, fire fighters as well as the police were already there. Statements of sympathy and support have come from all segments of the political spectrum as well as ordinary Canadians reflecting their decency and caring nature.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was "deeply disturbed" by the fire that destroyed part of the only mosque in the city that had elected its first Afghan-Canadian woman as the Liberal Party Member of Parliament, Maryam Monsef. She was appointed minister in the Trudeau cabinet. Trudeau also promised in a statement released today that the federal government would work hard to bring those responsible to justice.

The newly elected Canadian Prime Minister added that the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday had shocked people everywhere, and Canadians need to understand that "Muslims around the world are also being persecuted regularly by these violent extremists."

"We're in this together," he said.

"To the families who attend the mosque for prayer every week, the Government of Canada and our law-enforcement agencies will protect your rights and make every effort to apprehend the perpetrator," Trudeau said.

In an incredible display of fellowship, residents of Peterborough launched a campaign to raise funds for the Muslim community to repair the mosque. While the estimated damage is $80,000, by Monday evening, $110,000 had already been raised.

One anonymous donor pledged $10,000 leading to the arrest and conviction of those involved in this terrorist act.

"An injury to any citizen of any faith in the community is an injury to us all," Peterborough Police Chief Murray Rodd said, noting he extended apologies to residents of the Muslim community.

While the police have not provided information about any suspects, they have sought help from the neighborhood and received numerous tips. Security footage from the mosque cameras has also been provided to the police to help in the investigation.

Peterborough Mayor Daryl Bennett said in a statement November 15 that the crime did not represent the community's feelings. "Attacking a place of worship is a despicable act. Masjid Al-Salaam, the name of the mosque, means Mosque of Peace," he wrote.

Duane Rousselle, a city resident, set up an online fundraiser to crowdfund for the mosque’s repair.

"We encourage members of the community, of all or no faiths, to help the Muslim community restore their place of worship," he wrote.

Churches have offered their places for Muslims to conduct prayers in until the mosque is repaired.

The hate-mongers that set fire to the mosque have failed. Canadians are made of different material: they are decent and caring human beings.


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