Canadian Muslim groups are hearing reports of backlash toward community members — including bullying toward Muslim children and the torching of an Ontario mosque — following the attacks by the Islamic State that killed 129 people in Paris Friday night.
The Kawartha Muslim Religious Association in Peterborough was set ablaze Saturday at around 11 pm in what the association said was "clearly a hate crime." The police are investigating it as such. The same building, which is the city's only mosque, was vandalized immediately after the 9/11 terror attacks in 2001.
Canadian Muslims are on high alert following the arson, Ihsaan Gardee, executive director of the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), told VICE News on Monday. The NCCM is monitoring the situation, and Gardee said there has been a spike in incidents reported to the NCCM, including online reports of bullying and targeting Muslim children in schools.
"There's varying different chatter online through social media and Twitter from people who are feeling the burden has been placed upon them, so having to answer for these kinds of actions," Gardee said.
The Paris attacks were perpetrated "by people who call themselves Muslims," he said, and acts including Saturday's arson are "expressions of criminals and thugs who are either very ignorant or are misdirecting their hatred."
"When it comes to the Peterborough mosque, obviously there's a deep distress and it's deeply troubling that this kind of an incident could take place, and we've been hearing from Canadian Muslims that they are concerned of course by these kinds of acts, which are in our view, un-Canadian."
Like all Canadians, he said Muslims are in shock following the IS attacks in Paris, Beirut and Baghdad. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families, and the victims of violence everywhere."
Repairs to the Kawartha Muslim Religious Association are expected to cost at least $80,000, and as of Monday morning, a fundraiser for the mosque had raised $67,000.
Gardee said it was heart-warming to see outreach and support by fellow Canadians over the weekend, and said he was encouraged to see both the mayor and MP for Peterborough had spoken out against the arson.
The day before the Paris attacks, two suicide bombers killed 43 people in Beirut, Lebanon. And the same day as the Paris violence, a roadside bomb killed 26 people in Baghdad, Iraq. IS also claimed responsibility for those attacks.
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