Thanks given by Muslims in Alberta community for cleaning up hate message

Muslims in Cold Lake, have held a special prayer service to offer thanks for the community's support after their mosque was vandalized.

COLD LAKE — Muslims in Cold Lake, have held a special prayer service to offer thanks for the community’s support after their mosque was vandalized.

The service was held Sunday — about a month after the words “Go home” were spray-painted across the entrance to the building and a brick was thrown through a window.

When word of the vandalism got out, local residents began work within hours to repair the damage.

Riaz Ingar, a mosque member who spoke at the service, says the community’s response was gratifying.

The mosque also held a question-and-answer session to explain to non-Muslims what Islam is all about.

The RCMP is still investigating evidence, but no arrests have been made.

Ingar says by cleaning up the mosque, non-Muslim neighbours and friends of the Islamic community made it clear that the message of hate was not one they share.

“So whatever happened was an isolated incident. I believe (non-Muslims) were offended by it.”

Jennifer Dusyk-Johnson, a high school teacher who was also at the service, says the vandalism was unfortunate.

“I think our community did really come together and say ‘this isn’t really what we’re about.”’

Cold Lake is home to a large military base where six Canadian CF-18 fighter jets departed days before the vandalism to join the international mission combating Islamic extremists in Iraq.

Mahmoud Elkabri, a mosque board member, has said he believes the vandals could be from outside the community and doesn’t think the act is connected to any anti-Muslim sentiment following last month’s attacks on soldiers in Ottawa and Quebec.

Elkabri also said the mosque has been open for four years at its current location and has been targeted before, but that was part of vandalism done to several businesses in the area.

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