Dozens of non-Muslims in a Canadian town came together to help Muslims clean up a mosque after it was vandalised.
The vandalism at the mosque, which included smashed windows and racist messages, was discovered last Friday morning in Cold Lake, Alberta.
The words “Go home” were written multiple times across the outside of the building in red spray paint.
Volunteers on Friday afternoon cleaned up the graffiti and removed the racist scrawlings. A poster with the phrase “Love your neighbour” was also seen in a window.
Mosque board member Mahmoud Elkadri said he spotted the vandalism when he arrived to open the doors for prayers.
“My kids saw it and they started crying and I said: ‘Why are you crying?’ They said: ‘We were born here and raised here and this is our home,’” Elkadri told The Canadian Press.
Elkadri doesn’t believe the vandalism is linked to any anti-Muslim sentiment.
“I am very sure whoever did this could be just a drunk random person at night-time or it could be … someone not from Cold Lake,” he said.
The vandalism comes just two days after a Canadian soldier was shot dead by a Canadian Muslim at the National War Memorial in Ottawa. It’s also four days after another attack on Canadian soldiers in Quebec, which left one soldier dead and another wounded.
Both individuals responsible for the attacks were Canadian-born men who had recently converted to Islam. Ottawa shooter Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, 32, and Quebec attacker Martin Couture-Rouleau, 25, were both shot dead.
Prominent Muslim cleric Imam Syed Soharwardy of Calgary on Thursday urged mosque leaders across the country to be wary of converts who show signs of radicalisation.
“They should take on the responsibility of checking backgrounds and staying in touch and make sure this person is not being recruited by any radical organisation or terrorist organisations,” Soharwardy said on Thursday.
“I’m not saying don’t convert them, but we have to be aware of those activities and work with police intelligence to make sure that a criminal person who just converted to Islam does not commit a major crime.”
The town of Cold Lake is home to the military base where Canadian CF-18 fighters departed from earlier this month to participate in airstrikes against the ISIS.
Ihsaan Gardee, executive director of the National Council of Canadian Muslims, said the incident doesn’t represent the sentiment of the “vast majority” of Canadians.
“It’s kind of ironic that the word Canada was printed (on the mosque) because I think the vast majority of our fellow citizens would say this is un-Canadian,” Gardee told CTV’s News.
Ajaz Quraishi, president of the Cold Lake Islamic Society, told CTV he is hopeful that the vandalism was an isolated incident.
“I know just about everybody in the city of Cold Lake, and people are good,” said Quraishi, who’s lived in the city for the past 30 years. “I don’t know who did it, very hard to say, but I’m very surprised to see this happen in Cold Lake.”