Kitchener-Waterloo

Cambridge, Ont., mosque moves forward, gives back after vandalism 

Cambridge’s Baitul Kareem Mosque is moving forward after it was severely vandalized this summer, turning a negative into a positive, officials say.

Mosque officials redirected donations to local shelter

Fatir Ahmad is the Imam of the Baitul Kareem Mosque in Cambridge. (Hala Ghonaim/CBC)

Cambridge's Baitul Kareem Mosque is moving forward after it was severely vandalized this summer, turning a negative into a positive, mosque officials say.  

In mid-July, the the mosque was broken into. It was ripped apart and left with about $10,000 worth of damage. 

The Waterloo Regional Police Service charged a 35-year-old Cambridge man with break and enter, property damage over $5,000, possession of stolen property, among other offences.

Mosque officials say they have since learned that the man charged was allegedly living with a drug addiction and that he was a part of the local shelter system.

And so the mosque decided it would take the hundreds of dollars in donations it had received to fix the damaged to the building, and give the money to the local shelter instead. Members of the community were encouraged to donate there as well.  

Baitul Kareem Mosque in Cambridge faced extensive damage as a result of vandalism in mid July. This photo shows the extend of the damages. (Hala Ghonaim/CBC)

"We believe that we should be the solution to whatever negativity that we face. So we thought it was best to donate that back to where it belongs the most," said Imam Fatir Ahmad.

"We, the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, go by the motto of 'love for all, hatred for none,"" Ahmad said.

Rebuild and repair 

The vandalism in July resulted in exterior and interior damage. The kitchen stove and other appliances were wrecked, electronics — including the surveillance system — were stolen and Islamic literature was tossed all over. 

But almost three months later, the mosque is shaping up to look like it once did.

"All the clean up is done. It's, you can say, better than before." said Ahmad.

Construction is still underway, but so far damage to the building has been fixed and stolen property has been replaced.

The mosque community used its own funds to rebuild and repair. This is a photo of what the mosque looks like today. (Robert Krbavac/CBC)

"In the beginning it was a big shock, but looking back to it, you see that there are a lot of positives that have come out and it continues to come out from it," said Nomaan Mubashir, the mosque's president.

"You know, for myself, the outpouring of community support that we received. You know, it tells you my conviction that love is stronger than hate," he added.

Nomaan Mubashir, local president Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at Canada, said the mosque community decided to give back following a police investigation. (Hala Ghonaim/CBC)

Motive questioned at first

"In the beginning, we really didn't know what to make of it," said Mubashir.

"We had no idea how someone could do something like this, so we had questions, obviously. Is it a hate crime, or is it an act of vandalism?"

However, the police investigation concluded there was no proof the incident was a hate crime.

"It was sort of a relief ... I don't think anybody, any community, wants to be a target of a hate crime," said Mubashir.

A snap of what the kitchen looks like today. The mosque had its stove smashed in. (Robert Krbavac/CBC)

The mosque officials say even though this incident wasn't motivated by hate, Islamophobia still exists across the country.

To help tackle this, the mosque is hosting its 40th World Religions Conference this weekend on combating racism, amid Islamic Heritage Month.

Community responds to vandalism at Cambridge mosque

6 months ago
Duration 1:11
Watch as Maqbool Sheikh with Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at Canada describes how his community is healing after significant damage was done to the Baitul Kareem Mosque in Cambridge, Ont. Officials are calling the incident an act of hate against the Muslim community. 1:11

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