Community Comes Together After Mosque is Vandalized in Canada

Alta Mosque Vandalism

Vandals struck a mosque in the small Canadian community of Cold Lake, Alberta, but neighbors banded together and helped clean up the mess right away.

The sleepy northeastern tourist town on the shores of Cold Lake is home to a tight knit military and oil community of about 13,000 residents.  As the sun rose on the morning of October 24, Mahmoud Elkabri arrived at the Islamic Center of Cold Lake for morning prayers to discover angry messages of “Go Home” and “Canada” spray painted in red letters across the front of the building. In testament to the close-knit nature of the town, he says he knew this could not be the work of local citizens.

Elkabri’s faith in his neighbors proved well-founded. Dozens of non-Muslim residents showed up within hours, and worked together to wash the graffiti from the defaced wall and repair broken windows. Posters bearing positive messages of solidarity also showed up, including one from a Catholic group in Edmonton declaring, “We believe in the same God and have the same hopes.”

Although this was the first such hate crime to occur in the wake of the Ottawa terrorism shootings at Parliament earlier in October, no evidence has emerged to suggest the vandalism was a retaliation or otherwise related to the shootings. Regardless of the motivating factor, Nathan Cullen, a political representative whose constituency includes Cold Lake, commended the town’s response Friday in Parliament. He acknowledged that with national tensions running a little high in the wake of the shootings, human nature comes a little closer to the surface. And while sometimes exposed human nature leads to ugly behavior, in this case it brought out a shining example of a positive response.

“The people of Cold Lake met hate with kindness; ignorance, they faced with love,” Cullen said. “We say thank you to these people in Cold Lake who showed us the very best of this country.”


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