Vandalism at Mosque Causes $5,000 in Damage, Prompts Anti-Hate Rally

March 26, 2004

Source: Toronto Star

On March 26, 2004 the Toronto Star reported, "A Pickering mosque held its evening services as usual yesterday, saddened but undeterred by vandals who ignited a fire and spray-painted 'Jesus Rules' on an outside wall during the night. 'I think this is a hate crime and our hope is that the police will fully investigate it as such and not (as) a random act by vandals,' said Ahsan Butt, president of the 250-member Al-Mahdi Islamic Centre in the hamlet of Cherrywood. 'We are grieved by this, but we know it is not likely the work of anyone in this community, which we've belonged to since 1994,' said Syed Mazhar of Markham, joint secretary of the mosque, which is affiliated with The Council of Islamic Guidance. Mazhar said it is the first such incident at the mosque. Vandals lit a fire and spray-painted 'Jesus Rules' in yellow paint on a coat rack outside the canopied women's entrance. Firefighters arrived shortly before 3 a.m. after a caretaker at the mosque called 911. Damage was estimated at about $5,000, all of it to the exterior of the one-storey, flat-roofed building on the 3rd Concession, just west of White's Rd...Those incidents prompted a huge outcry and an anti-hate rally attended by more than 2,500 people Wednesday night."