// Mosque firebombing sparks outrage
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« on: Jan 12, 2010 05:13 PM »


Mosque firebombing sparks outrage

 TheSpec.com - Local - Mosque firebombing sparks outrage

Hate crimes unit investigating

Paul Morse
The Hamilton Spectator

Shock and anger is spreading among Hamilton's 20,000 Muslims after the city's largest mosque was firebombed.

"They tried to burn the mosque down," said Zakir Patel, 42, principal of the Islamic School of Hamilton, which is part of the mosque.

Patel discovered the firebombing around 8 a.m. yesterday when he opened his office door. Attackers had used a large rock to smash a hole in a front window at the mosque and then lobbed in what police are calling an "incendiary device."

Javid Mirza, past-president of the mosque, said the device was still smouldering when it was found, leading many to believe the attack had occurred a short time before.

The Molotov cocktail did only minimal damage to the Stone Church Road East mosque.

The Hamilton police hate crime unit and chief arson investigator Sergeant Tim Bower are leading the investigation. Police are not discussing any possible motives.

Police would only say they discovered "evidence of vandalism at the property as well as an incendiary device" and pegged damage at about $3,000.

Chief Glenn De Caire and Deputy Chief Ken Leendertse both called mosque president Mohamedkamal Gurgi offering their condolences and support. Gurgi said De Caire also said police patrols would be increased around the mosque.

Premier Dalton McGuinty, Hamilton Mountain MP Chris Charlton and the Ottawa-based Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations were among those who condemned the attack. Gurgi also heard from representatives of the United Church and the Canadian Jewish Congress.

"Ontario's diversity is our great strength," McGuinty said last night. "So when a mosque or other place of worship is desecrated, it is an attack on all Ontarians."

The school has about 200 students from kindergarten to Grade 8.

"This is distressing and disheartening that in the 21st century people are still dealing with others this way based on their religion," Patel said. "To attack a school of innocent children -- part of me is very angry."

The incident has drawn national attention with the Council on American-Islamic Relations CANADA calling the attack “deeply offensive.”

"An attack on any place of worship is deeply offensive and hurtful. Islam promotes social justice, peaceful relations and understanding with our neighbours - both Muslims and non-Muslims,”  Ihsaan Gardee, CAIR-CAN executive director said in a statement.

"Our organization calls on politicians and security officials in Hamilton to demonstrate leadership by standing firm against all forms of hate, racism and xenophobia,” said Gardee.  “Such cowardly acts of vandalism, regardless of their scope, represent not only an attempt to cause physical damage but an attempt to divide communities by targeting visible and vulnerable minorities.”

“While deeply disturbing, CAIR-CAN does not believe that such incidents represent the sentiments of the vast majority of Canadians, which is why we ask our fellow citizens of conscience to join us in condemning this regrettable act.”  

A brown glass bottle filled with flaming liquid had sailed over Patel's desk and smashed against the back wall of his office beside a brown plastic waste basket, setting fire to the carpet.

The shattered remains of the glass bottle, pieces of burnt carpet and a lighter found outside the smashed window have been sent to the Centre for Forensic Sciences in Toronto.

Patel said he thinks the plastic garbage pail may have saved the mosque by melting extremely rapidly and smothering the flames.

Gurgi said the mosque had not received any specific threats, but said it does receives the occasional "hate message" on its answering machine.

He said they are mostly laced with insults and include pronouncements that "you immigrants" should go back home.

The attack on the mosque comes six weeks after a racist threat against Spectator freelance columnist Hussein Hamdani had been found taped to a van belonging to Hamilton's Settlement and Immigration Services Organization.

A note containing attacks against immigrants and numerous swear words had been left along with a copy of Hamdani's column in which the eyes in his logo had been X'd out. Police are probing the threat as a possible hate crime.

The same mosque was damaged in 2001 when vandals destroyed its front lobby by smashing windows with beer bottles in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks.

At the same time, the Hindu Samaj Temple in Hamilton was destroyed in fire that police said was set by an anti-Arab arsonist who drunkenly mistook the Hindu temple for a mosque. Charges against a suspect were withdrawn for lack of evidence.

"Thank God there were no children in the school," said Gurgi.

Gurgi said the mosque had applied for security funding from a special federal program last summer for a new building wide security system. Mirza said he was told in November to expect news at or after the Christmas holidays. The mosque is seeking $45,000 from Ottawa to help pay for $90,000 worth of surveillance cameras, new lights, signs and alarms.

"That's urgent now," said Gurgi.

Charlton said she would check what has happened to the mosque's application by contacting Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan today. She said "it certainly seems" the mosque should qualify.

"This is so shocking," said Mirza. "I hope whoever is responsible turns themselves in."

Hamilton Major Fred Eisenberger said he hopes the perpetrators are caught as quickly as possible.

"This is a deplorable act against one of our places of worship. When one of us gets attacked in this way, no matter who it is, it impacts us all."

Eisenberger said he hopes to talk to the Muslim community to talk about concerns and assure them of the city's commitment to being a sharing and caring community.

"If there is a desire to meet, I would be certainly happy to go, and I would hope the police would do the same to give them a sense of comfort and understanding that the police are taking this extremely seriously."

Anyone with information is asked to call the police arson unit at 905-540-5085, the hate crime unit at 905-546-5678 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.

pmorse@thespec.com
905-526-3434

-- With files from Daniel Nolan, The Hamilton Spectator



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« Reply #1 on: Jan 12, 2010 05:14 PM »

 http://www.thespec.com/News/BreakingNews/article/697777 

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Shock, outrage over attack on city mosque
 TheSpec.com - BreakingNews - Shock, outrage over attack on city mosque
Molotov cocktail hurled at building overnight

Paul Morse

Shock and anger is spreading among Hamilton’s 20,000 Muslims after the city’s largest mosque was firebombed this morning.

“They tried to burn the mosque down,” Zakir Patel said today.

Patel, 42, is principal of the Islamic School of Hamilton which is part of the mosque.

The Molotov cocktail did only minimal damage.

Patel says it’s “distressing and disheartening that in the 21st century people are still dealing with others this way based on their religion.

“To attack a school of innocent children — part of me is very angry.”

Hamilton police’s hate crime unit and chief arson investigator Sergeant Tim Bower are leading the investigation. Police, however, are not discussing any possible motives for the firebombing.

In a carefully worded press release, police would only say that they discovered “evidence of vandalism at the property as well as an incendiary device,” and pegged the damage at about $3,000.

The mosque school has about 200 students from kindergarten to grade 8.

Patel discovered the firebombing around 8 a.m. when he opened his office door.

Attackers had used a large rock to smash a large hole in a front window at the mosque and then lobbed in what police are calling an “incendiary device.”

A brown glass bottle filled with flaming liquid had sailed over Patel’s desk and smashed against the back wall of his office beside a brown plastic waste basket, setting fire to the carpet.

The shattered remains of the glass bottle, pieces of burnt carpet and a lighter found outside the smashed window have been sent to the Centre for Forensic Sciences in Toronto.

“Thank god there were no children in the school,” said Hamilton Mosque president Mohamedkamal Gurgi. “There has been a spike in the number of incidents against Muslims in the city.”

Anyone with information is asked to call the police arson unit at 905-540-5085, the hate crime unit at 905-546-5678 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.

See full story in tomorrow’s Spectator.


pmorse@thespec.com
905-526-3434



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« Reply #2 on: Jan 12, 2010 05:22 PM »

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Security cash for firebombed mosque
 TheSpec.com - Local - Security cash for firebombed mosque
Police chief appeals to public for assistance

Paul Morse


(Jan 6, 2010)
One day after a failed firebombing at Hamilton's largest mosque, the federal government says the mosque will receive funding for a state-of-the-art security surveillance system it applied for in July.

In a statement late yesterday, Public Safety Canada said Ottawa is about to give Hamilton Mosque money to beef up its security.

"The funding for this specific project is in the final stages of review to determine how much funding will be provided," said Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan spokesperson Chris McCluskey yesterday.

News of the funding decision will come soon, he said.

Mosque leaders say they believe they were about to be approved for the grant regardless of the attack.

The mosque, the largest of eight in Hamilton, applied to the Communities At Risk Security Infrastructure program to help pay half of a $98,000 building-wide surveillance system, that includes cameras, alarms and signage.

Yesterday, Hamilton's new police chief Glenn De Caire appealed to the public for any help to solve the attack, which is classified as an arson.

"This is a very serious incident and we are appealing to anyone who has information to come forward," De Caire said yesterday.

"Any information would be much appreciated."

The police chief, who went to the mosque and talked with its leaders the day of the firebombing, said he has ordered increased police patrols at the mosque.

De Caire, along with Mayor Fred Eisenberger and Hamilton Mountain MPP Sophia Aggelonitis, will meet the Muslim community at the mosque on Friday afternoon after prayers. They will talk about any heightened fears and security concerns with the mosque and the mosque's school.

"We want to address that fear with them. The incident is something we won't tolerate as a community and we, as a police service, take very seriously."

De Caire said he will also discuss overall safety in the community.

"They need to feel confident in their ability to return to their building to carry out their worship and their education of children."

The Stone Church Road building, which houses both the mosque and its accredited elementary school, was attacked early Monday. Someone threw a large stone through a front plate glass window, followed by a flaming Molotov cocktail.

The firebomb struck a back wall and shattered, but quickly fizzled, causing minimal damage.

De Caire said crimes in Hamilton motivated by hatred of race, religion or sexuality have remained stable since 2003. According to 2008 police statistics, the black community was the most targeted by hate/bias with 17 incidents, followed by 15 incidents against members of the Jewish community and 12 against East Indians. Sexual orientation accounted for seven incidents, with six against Islam or Muslims.

However, a police hate crime working group believes only 10 per cent of all hate crimes are reported.

Police ask anyone with inform-ation to call the hate crime unit at 905-546-5678, the arson unit at 905-540-5085 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.

pmorse@thespec.com

905-526-3434


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« Reply #3 on: Jan 12, 2010 05:23 PM »

 http://www.thespec.com/Opinions/article/698096

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Attacking Islam
 TheSpec.com - Opinions - Attacking Islam

Howard Elliott
The Hamilton Spectator

(Jan 6, 2010)
Has so little changed? Days after the attacks of 9/11, a mosque was damaged and a Hindu temple burned in senseless attacks against local Muslims. Now, after an unsuccessful attempt to blow up an airliner, a Molotov cocktail is tossed into the Mountain Mosque. This is the kind of Groundhog Day Hamilton does not need.

Granted, police have yet to confirm this is a hate crime, and we hope against hope it turns out to be something else. But chances are, it is what it appears to be.

If so, we extend our condolences and support to Hamilton's 20,000-strong Muslim community. We say, as we did in 2001, that an attack against one is an attack against us all. And we live in hope that this isolated but tragic incident is just that, and that our community has become a more welcoming place than in those dark days.

Editorials are written by members of the editorial board. They represent the position of the newspaper, not necessarily the individual author.

Your heart will not truly open until you understand Surah 21 : Verse 92  (Al-Anbiya: The Prophets)

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« Reply #4 on: Jan 12, 2010 07:32 PM »

wsalam,

That's really scary. Especially at Islamic schools! I guess we need to step up our security too with security cameras and things to hopefully prevent things and if something happens catches who did it. We're always so open with our Mosques. I've seen almost all Jewish temples with Fort Knox like security I guess that's the way we have to go.
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