Community responds to 'cowardly act' of vandalism at Cambridge mosque

Coalition of Muslim Women K-W called the destruction of a kitchen at the Baitul Kareem Mosque in Cambridge a 'cowardly act.'

Coalition of Muslim Women K-W say attacks have increased since London incident back in June

The Baitul Kareem Mosque is located in the Galt area of Cambridge. The sign on the outside the building reads, 'Love for all, hatred for none.' Members of the community say recent vandalism at the mosque was a 'cowardly' act. (Hala Ghonaim/CBC)

Vandalism at a Cambridge mosque that could take tens of thousands of dollars to repair is being condemned by people in the community.

The Coalition of Muslim Women K-W called the destruction of several rooms and property at the Baitul Kareem Mosque a "cowardly act."

"The Muslim community in Canada has experienced a sharp increase in attacks against them after the London, Ont., massacre in June," the coalition said.

The coalition also called for increased security around Muslim places of worship and said it "hopes the national summit against Islamophobia compels all forms of government to take actionable steps to stop the cycle of harassment and violence against Muslims."

Watch as Maqbool Sheikh with Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at Canada describes how his community is healing:

Community responds to vandalism at Cambridge mosque

2 years ago
Duration 1:12
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.

The Waterloo Region District School Board said it was "saddened" by the vandalism, and said some staff, students and their families may be feeling unsafe.

"The WRDSB is committed to confronting and interrupting Islamophobia and all forms of racism, hate and discrimination," the board said in a blog post, where it also offered a number of resources for people who were impacted by the incident.

Mosque president Nomaan Mubashir says people are 'really horrified as a community. It's something we did not expect.' (Hala Ghonaim/CBC)

Cambridge Mayor Kathryn McGarry visited the mosque on Thursday.

"Any act of vandalism, especially in a place of worship, is a hateful act," she said. "It's spiteful, it's mean, it's hateful and I think the important thing is members of our community feel safe."

Regional Chair Karen Redman issued a statement saying officials were "deeply saddened and disturbed" by the break-in.

"This is about more than theft and damage. It is about the impact and trauma experienced by not only the community members that attend the Baitul Kareem Mosque in Cambridge but the entire local Muslim community," the statement said.

"Everyone in Waterloo region deserves to feel safe and hateful acts of Islamophobia have no place in our region or anywhere."

The Baitul Kareem Mosque in Cambridge, Ont., is facing extensive damages worth tens of thousands of dollars, including stolen property, as a result of vandalism, according to a statement by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at Canada. (Hala Ghonaim/CBC)

'It's just tragic'

Instead of gathering for their weekly jumah midday prayer on Thursday, some worshipers at Baitul Kareem Mosque worked to clean their prayer space and the kitchen.

Mosque president Nomaan Mubashir said the vandalism happened days before the community is set to celebrate Eid al-Adha next Tuesday. The day is marked by special morning prayers, but important observation may not go ahead.

With the community entering Step 3 of the provincial reopening plan on Friday, Mubashir said, "you can finally meet people. We can have the Eid prayer after a period of more than a year. So it's just tragic."

Islamophobia summit next week

Waterloo MP Bardish Chagger, who is also the federal minister of diversity, inclusion and youth, said on Twitter that it "breaks my heart" that police had to be called to investigate "yet another hateful Islamophobic attack against the Muslim community. I stand with Baitul Kareem Mosque and against all forms of hate."

Chagger announced earlier this month that a national summit on Islamophobia will be held and it's scheduled to take place next Thursday. A summit on anti-Semitism is set for Wednesday.

It comes in the wake of rising anti-Muslim and anti-Semitism attacks throughout the country, including four members of a London, Ont., Muslim family who were run over and killed by a man police in the city say was motivated by hate.

Maqbool Sheikh of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at Canada said he hopes the summit will help remind people to come together and stand up for each other when they see hate.

Maqbool Sheikh is with Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at Canada. He went inside the Baitul Kareem Mosque in Cambridge on Thursday to survey the damage. (Hala Ghonaim/CBC)

"It's something that we all Canadians need to stand up and speak up, be it against Muslims or anybody," he said Thursday while standing in the destroyed kitchen of the mosque.

"I think what you'll find out of the summit will be that, yes, it's going to be about Islam and Islamophobia, but I bet you there's going to be a lot of stuff in there that we can use for any community that's being targeted for hate because there's just no room for that."