How faith and non-faith communities helped repair a mosque damaged by arson

The flag of Ontario. Credit: abdallahh/Flickr.

On November 14, firefighters responded to a fire at the only mosque in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada.  The fire at the Masjid Al-Salaam broke out at around 11pm. Heavy smoke damage inside the mosque could cost more than $80,000 to fix. Nor did the flames injure anyone inside.

Around 30 minutes earlier, 70 worshipers had welcomed and celebrated the birth of a young couple’s child.

Peterborough Police Service are treating the fire as a hate crime. At a press conference they confirmed that a mosque window was broken and an accelerant was placed inside and then set on fire.

It shocked communities of all faiths and none into action. Within hours, thousands had donated to an online crowdfund in support of the mosque. Within 48 hours of the arson, donations had reached $91,000. In total, the appeal raised $110,536. The Kawartha Muslim Religious Association (KMRA) asked to stop the fundraising appeal after meeting its repair goal. Any outstanding money will go to other charitable causes.

Canada’s Anglican community also helped raise funds. The clericus of the regional deanery in Peterborough donated $250 and asked other parishes to match the amount. That appeal should help raise thousands of dollars, according to Dean Gloria Master.

Friday prayers have taken place in the Mark Street United Church.

It then switched to the local Beth Israel Synagogue. In the evening, worshipers used the space for their annual evening potluck social. In respect of the kosher settings, it was their first vegetarian potluck event.

Next week, Friday prayers will take place inside the Anglican All Saints’ Church.

Communities in Toronto responded to rising prejudice with solidarity events with Muslim communities. In Newfoundland and Labrador, hundreds, irrespective of faith, attended a solidarity event at a local mosque.

A Facebook page setup in support of the mosque has attracted thousands of likes and vast amounts of public support.