Canadian police investigating Toronto mosque break-in
By Barry Ellsworth
TRENTON, Canada (AA): Authorities in Canada are investigating a break-in vandalism to a Toronto mosque, Toronto police said Monday.
The caretaker at the Baitul Jannah Islamic Centre, at Kingston Road and Brimley Road, Scarborough, discovered the break-in when he opened the mosque at around 5:30 a.m. Sunday for morning prayer.
“I am deeply disturbed by the vandalism targeting the Baitul Jannah Islamic Center in Toronto. Islamophobia has no place in Canada and we will continue to take action to make our communities feel safe,” Prime Minister, Justine Trudeau, tweeted on August 23.
“I’m devastated to see the aftermath of this violent break-in. This kind of violence is never okay and we must take urgent action to address acts of anti-Muslim racism and Islamophobia that’s on the rise. Everyone deserves to have a safe and sacred space for practising their faith. These acts are unacceptable and must be stopped,” said Doly Begum, Member of Provincial Parliament for Scarborough Southwest (SSW).
“They threw out all of our Qurans which were on the shelf,” said mosque president Atiqur Rahman. “They took the recording for the CCTV cameras. They took it out of the machine.”
Rahman told Global News that break-ins are happening more frequently than ever before.
“I think it’s Islamophobia, or someone doesn’t like us,” he said.
Multiple prayer rooms were vandalized, several copies of the Qur’an were thrown to the floor, two donation boxes were smashed and the office was ransacked.
“There’s evidence from what you can see that the people who did this may have been trying to steal things but they also looked like they were trying to send a message of some kind. And it wasn’t a message of the kind of friendliness and solidarity that we expect in the city between and among different faith groups and so on,” Toronto Mayor John Tory told reporters.
“This evening, I visited the Baitul Jannah Islamic Centre in Scarborough with @CllrCrawford to extend our support to the mosque and the Muslim community in the wake of the disgraceful act of vandalism over the weekend,” tweeted Tory.
Police said break-ins occurred at the mosque in March and April as well as June, but authorities said it was too early in the investigation to call the latest incident a hate crime. However, the police hate crimes unit has been notified.
In the latest round of vandalism, the mosque office was ransacked and donation boxes were smashed. In a previous break-in, 14 of 15 donation boxes were taken containing thousands of dollars, Rahman said.
“We had 15 and, they left one of them. They took the money and broke the doors. We’ve had to change the locks several times,” he added.
Mosque board of directors member Shahab Siddique said the reasons for the repeated break-ins and vandalism are hard to understand.
“This is a religion of peace, and there are some people who hate us. This is shocking, and we are really devastated,” Siddique said.
Toronto Mayor John Tory said he would visit the mosque later Monday to demonstrate support for the Muslim community.
Toronto is the largest city in Canada and the fourth largest in North America, with a population of about 2.8 million.
Additional report by The Muslim News
[Map of Canada by CIA Factbook/Public Domain]
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