You might be wondering why it’s news that a mosque is giving back to the community, but it’s an interesting story. The only mosque in Peterborough, Ontario, suffered damages after the Paris bombing attacks. A firebomb had been placed in a window, causing a fire. It was not the only mosque targeted in Ontario. Fortunately, no one was injured in the bombing, although there were people in the building just an hour before the firebomb went off. Members were celebrating the birth of a baby, according to the president of the Kawartha Muslim Religious Association (KMRA), the group which oversees the mosque.
Aftermath of the Bombing
While the congregation of the mosque waited for it to be rebuilt, a local synagogue hosted prayer sessions for them. A crowdfunding campaign was started to ensure that the resources would be available to pay for the damages. Almost $100,000 was raised in just a few days. The damages were estimated at $80,000. Insurance ultimately paid for the repairs, which left the donations free and clear for the mosque.
The KMRA reported that they also received many letters and emails from across Canada demonstrating support for the mosque. Individuals in the community came together in solidarity, with people leaving flowers and notes outside of the building. Some women held a drumming and singing vigil after the fire. The KMRA reports that it had to install security cameras, just in case there is another attack. This is the second time the mosque has been damaged after an international incident. The first time was after the 9/11 attacks. In that attack on the mosque, only windows were smashed.
What Happened to the Money?
The KMRA is donating the crowd-funded money to the YMCA Crossroads women’s shelter and to another shelter in the community which works with children and teens who have special needs. The association wanted to assist those who were vulnerable, because that is how they feel right now. This is a statement from their website:
“We the members of the KMRA are shocked and deeply disturbed by the November 14th incident at Masjid Al-salaam. The damage of the incident which is now being investigated as a possible hate crime has been estimated to exceed $80,000. In spite of the incident, we are deeply touched and highly encouraged by the overwhelming support we have received from the Peterborough community at large. We will continue to work with all faith groups and concerned citizens in raising awareness of peace and tolerance. We are thankful to all those who have extended their support to our community and we look forward to strengthening ties with the broader Peterborough community.”
The attitude of the mosque’s leadership should be commended. Instead of turning inward and shutting out those in the community who reached out to them after the tragedy, they turned around and did what they could for the neediest individuals.
Imam Shazim Khan stated that the building was “rebuilt better than it was before.” The entire congregation is taking the incident as a way to demonstrate their faith.
According to the Peterborough Examiner, the individuals which gave money to the crowd-funding campaign had a chance to get their money back if they chose. KRMA was upfront with the donators that the money would be donated to the community, instead of being used for rebuilding the mosque.
On December 23, the mosque reopened with a prayer service. It’s reported that there will be an open house on January 17. Whatever faith you do celebrate, this open house would be a great chance to learn more about the Muslim religion and people. This mosque has demonstrated its heart and character after a devastating event.