Vandalism comes just days after a violent attack on a Black Muslim woman wearing a hijab in Edmonton
Police are investigating after an east Edmonton mosque was vandalized with a swastika — and investigators said the incident might be related to two other instances of hate vandalism in the area.
A swastika symbol was discovered Tuesday on the wall of the Baitul Hadi Mosque in the Ottewell neighbourhood, on 98th Avenue near 71st Street.
It was discovered just nine days after a violent attack left four members of a Muslim family dead in London, Ont.
We are deeply disturbed by the rising acts of violence against the Muslim community, said Baitul Hadi Mosque Imam Nasir Butt in an email.
This is not the way of Canadians, and we must work together to combat anti-Muslim sentiment.
Mosque president Humayun Ahmed said the vandalism was reported as soon as it was discovered.
When we informed the police, they understood the gravity of the situation and they forwarded us to the hate crime unit, Ahmed said.
Police are reviewing security video and Ahmed said officers had been at the mosque for most of the day.
In a statement issued Wednesday, Edmonton Police Service (EPS) said the hate crimes unit had been consulted, but the investigation was being led by divisional investigators.
Police say the swastika may have been placed on the mosque as early as April, when two other similar incidents of hate vandalism were reported in the neighourhood, on both a vehicle and a fence.
Investigators believe the same suspect or suspects may be responsible for all three incidents, EPS said.
Investigating members are in close contact with the Baitul Hadi mosque as they work through the investigation, police said in the emailed statement.
The vandalism comes just days after a violent attack on a Black Muslim woman wearing a hijab in north Edmonton. (new window) There have been at least six hate-motivated attacks on Black and racialized Muslim women in Edmonton in recent months.
We hope that with our local community, our congregation at the mosque, along with all of our neighbours here we will come out of this [united], said Ahmed.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said on Twitter that it was
hurtful to see the mosque vandalized.
I have visited this mosque many times, Kenney said.
A wonderful community made up of proud Canadians who are constantly giving back to our broader community. I hope the hateful vandals responsible for this are identified and face the full legal consequences.
He pointed to a new grant program that helps fund security measures to deter hate crimes (new window).
Safwan Choudhry, a spokesperson for national council Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at Canada, said the vandalism is a black eye for Edmonton and Alberta.
Choudhry said Canadian Muslims are on edge with the increase in incidents of violence against members of the community. People in Edmonton are particularly fearful, he said.
Edmonton has had its string of anti-Islamic and hate-filled instances which have become a deep concern for the community more generally, and for Muslims more specifically in Edmonton, he said.
We try to be as vigilant as we can be, with all of the security protocols that one can think of, but these hateful incidents continue to occur.
He said the mosque will continue to focus on community outreach and education efforts in a bid to root out hatred at its root.
People that are bent on dividing society and creating fear of one another cannot win, he said.