The only mosque in Peterborough—Northeast of Toronto—was deliberately set on fire Saturday night. The CBC reports that the arson is a suspected hate crime. Peterborough police confirmed with The Toronto Star that the fire was deliberately set.
There was no one inside the building at 11 p.m. local time Sunday when the fire broke out, but a celebration of the birth of a baby hosted at the mosque had ended shortly beforehand, around 10 p.m.
The mosque, Masjid Al Salaam ("The Peace Mosque" or "The Mosque of Peace"), sees more than 100 congregants gather for Friday prayers, according to The Globe and Mail. The mosque has never been vandalized before, though Kenzu Abdella, the president of the Kawartha Muslim Religious Association, told the CBC that after 9/11 a previous building had its windows smashed.
Community members and Canadians more broadly took to to Twitter to express sympathy:
On Sunday, the city's Mayor, Daryl Bennett, released a statement condemning the attack, saying, "If this is found to be a hate crime, it in no way represents the feelings of our community."
Likewise, Maryam Monsef, the Member of Parliament for the Peterborough-Kawartha riding (the Canadian counterpart of an American congressional district), released a statement emphasizing that Peterborough is "a welcoming and friendly place to live." The statement also urged Peterborough residents to demonstrate "to demonstrate that these sorts of incidents are in no way reflective of our community as a whole."
A fundraising campaign for repairs to the mosque has raised $56,774 as of this writing. The campaign aims to raise at least $80,000, the amount it'll cost to repair smoke damage to the mosque.
Ethan Chiel is a reporter for Fusion, writing mostly about the internet and technology. You can (and should) email him at firstname.lastname@example.org