Yellowknife RCMP are investigating what the city's Muslims consider to be a hate crime after an image depicting the Prophet Muhammad was found at their place of worship.
Nur Ali told CBC News that he went to the Islamic Centre of Yellowknife to pray early Monday morning when he saw the picture glued to the door that women use to enter the centre.
Ali said the picture showed the face of a bearded man wearing a turban and having eyes "like a crazy person." The name of Muhammad, the founding prophet of Islam, was under the diagram.
Other Muslims who saw the image, like Gailani Dawoud, said it was glued to the door. It has since been removed and given to the RCMP for analysis.
"It's a kind of picture from a computer, not a hand drawing," Dawoud said Tuesday.
Islam forbids visual depictions of the Prophet Muhammad. In some countries, it is an offence punishable by death.
"It's very serious," Ali said. "If you remember a few years back, one publisher in Denmark, he did something like this and all over the world there was a demonstration, and people even died for that."
In September 2005, the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten printed a series of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad, describing the feature as a challenge to many artists' perceived self-censorship regarding Islam and the Prophet Muhammad.
Some Muslims believe any depiction of the Prophet — whether in a positive or negative light — is blasphemous because it could inspire idolatry.
The cartoons sparked international outrage when other newspapers across Europe — and then around the globe — reprinted the cartoons in 2006. Demonstrations against the cartoons grew violent in some locations, with protesters killed and various embassies attacked.
Not confirmed as hate investigation
Yellowknife RCMP told CBC News on Tuesday they are investigating the situation with officers reviewing the picture and asking neighbours if they have seen anything suspicious.
Police did not confirm if the case is being treated as a hate crime or a mischief case. Anyone with information is asked to call Yellowknife RCMP or CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
In the meantime, members of the Yellowknife Islamic Centre say they plan to install three or four security cameras around the facility by the end of this year.
Ali said never in his four years living in Yellowknife has he experienced discrimination or hatred because of his faith.
He said he believes the incident is isolated and Yellowknife residents are accepting of Muslims.