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Thursday, August 23, 2007

3rd attack on Mississauga mosque alarms Muslims

Minutes before prayers were set to begin on Sunday, a foot-wide slab of concrete came crashing through a window of a Mississauga mosque.

It was the second time in less than a month that the mosque has been targeted by vandals, and Muslim groups are asking police to treat the incident as a hate crime.

There were 100 people inside the mosque when the window shattered. No one was hurt and many were unaware that anything had even happened. Those who saw the act of vandalism reported that two male teens rode up on bicycles and hurled what appears to be a chunk of patio stone through the window of the facility's control room.

"It was a scary-looking thing," says M.D. Khalid, director of the Islamic Society of North America centre. "How much more daring can you be?"

He estimated the cost of the damage to be about $1,000. The building houses a mosque as well as a Muslim secondary school, where students are due to return from summer holidays in two weeks.

Earlier this month, a rock was tossed through the windshield of a van belonging to the mosque. Reports again identified two males on bicycles as responsible.

"When it's twice in the same location, it leaves the impression that some people are prejudiced," says Khalid. "These incidents are not random."

The mosque was also firebombed after Sept. 11, 2001 and Khalid is constantly increasing security at the mosque. "It's not a good feeling."

Wahida Valiante, vice-president of the Canadian Islamic Congress, is urging police to treat the incident as a hate crime.

"People could have died inside," she says emphatically. It's naïve to think that these incidents are not racially motivated, she adds.

Peel police are investigating, but treating the incident as mischief for now.

``If several Muslim mosques within Peel were all targeted, then you can say okay, they're targeting a specific culture," says Det. David Bullock.

"At this point, it's just a brick through a window of a building and the building happened to be a mosque." [Link]

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