Support has poured in from people across the country after a Prince Edward Island mosque was targeted by disturbing acts of vandalism and arson.

Worship at the Masjid Dar As-Salaam mosque is returning to normal after the latest in a series of unsettling threats that began last year during the mosque's construction.  

Last year, a pig's head was nailed to a post on the mosque site. Muslims consider pork impure.  

'They are our neighbours... our friends and coworkers... I don't think the community should be silent'—Rev. John Moses, Trinity United Church

Before that incident, a truck belonging to a contractor was set on fire at the build site.  

The latest came just two weeks ago, when somebody left a bottle of gasoline on the front steps, with a note reading "defeat Jihad."  

Since then, the mosque has received cards, gifts and emails from around the Island and across Canada.

Zain Esseghaier, a spokesperson for the Muslim Society of P.E.I., said the outpouring of support "feels great."  

"It shows that people really care and it reinforces our belief that as a principle, people are good and people do care," said Esseghaier.

Community outrage

Rev. John Moses, of Charlottetown's Trinity United Church, said threats against any members of the community should not be tolerated.  

"They are our neighbours, and in many cases our friends and coworkers, people with whom our children go to school," said Moses. "I don't think that the community should be silent when something like this is going on."  

"I think it's outrageous," said Charlottetown resident Pauline Coady, "I'm embarrassed to think that someone on Prince Edward Island has the gall."  

The mosque is also taking steps to protect its members.  

They are in the process of fencing the property surrounding the mosque and have installed security cameras to keep watch around the clock.  

P.E.I. is home to about 500 Muslims, many of whom have called Canada's smallest province home for decades.  

Esseghaier said he is surprised by the high level of support his community has received.

"If this could lead to more awareness and to a better dialogue and better communication between people, then I think it was worth the coverage," he said.  

The Muslim society is reaching out. A professor from Saint Mary's University will give a public lecture at UPEI Thursday evening to educate Islanders on Islam.

Police have stepped up patrols around the mosque and are asking anyone with information to come forward.

Corrections

  • We had originally reported the lecture would take place on Wednesday. In fact, the lecture will be taking place on Thursday at 7 p.m. at UPEI's McDougall Hall (Auditorium 242). All are welcome.
    Oct 09, 2012 8:42 PM AT