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Cold Lake residents work together to clean up vandalized mosque, RCMP investigating
Julia Parrish, CTV Edmonton
Published Friday, October 24, 2014 11:23AM MDT
Last Updated Friday, October 24, 2014 7:09PM MDT
Police in Cold Lake are investigating, after vandals struck a mosque in that city overnight – but Cold Lake residents quickly coordinated to remove the messages from the building.
RCMP told CTV News officers first received a call about it at 6:30 a.m., and Sgt. Troy Hadland from Cold Lake RCMP said they were “treating it very seriously.”
The words ‘Go Home’ and ‘Canada’ were spray-painted on the front of the mosque, and both front windows were broken.
Sgt. Hadland said the vandalism may be considered a hate crime.
The President of the Islamic Society of Cold Lake talked to CTV News Friday, Ajaz Quraishi said he hopes this is an isolated incident.
“I’m very surprised, that’s the only thing to me,” Quraishi, who is also an Imam in Cold Lake, said. “I talk to everybody, because I know just about everybody in the City of Cold Lake, and people are good.
“I don’t know who did it, it’s very hard to say but I’m very surprised to hear, surprised to see this can happen in Cold Lake.”
The Member of Parliament for the area, Westlock-St. Paul MP Brian Storseth said he was disappointed to hear about the incident.
“I was disappointed when I first heard it,” Storseth said.
“This is now way symbolic of the way we feel about any segment of our society or religious denomination,” Storseth continued, saying he had spoken to representatives of the Cold Lake mosque, who told him they had seen “positive support”.
Alex MacInnis in Cold Lake posted a photo of the vandalism on Facebook, and said he first saw the spray paint and broken windows at about 9 a.m. Friday.
“My first reaction was embarrassment and shame,” MacInnis said. “I have friends who worship there.
“Cold Lake has some very prominent Muslim members of it’s (sic) community.
“I was horrified and deeply saddened that anyone would do something like this.”
Still, MacInnis said this was not the first time something like this had happened.
“The day it opened someone put bricks through the front windows and they had to put security cameras up,” MacInnis said, going on to say the mosque was the only building on Main Street with security cameras, “except for the liquor stores and banks.
“It was as sad then as it is now. No Christian churches need security cameras around here. It’s shameful.”
It appears the vandalism sparked reaction from many in Cold Lake, by 1:30 Friday afternoon, a number of Cold Lake residents had converged on the mosque, in an effort to clean up the spray paint.
That response came as no surprise to Storseth.
“Seeing how these events have brought parliamentarians from all over the country from different faiths closer together to rise above the occasion, I think that’s a very Canadian response, and I think that’s what you are seeing in Cold Lake today too.”
With files from Laura Tupper and CTV Calgary