After Imam Syed Soharwardy denounced last Friday’s co-ordinated attacks in Paris, and the subsequent backlash against Muslims across the world at a candlelight vigil in Calgary, he discovered a northeast Calgary mosque had been broken into.
“I was coming out of the vigil, walking to my car when I found out there had been a break-in,” he said late Monday evening while surveying the damage.
Soharwardy said thieves used tools to break three doors at the Al Madinah Calgary Islamic Assembly, a mosque on 80th Avenue N.E., and left with donation boxes and a computer.
It’s believed the incident, which was reported to police, happened sometime on Monday, before the mosque’s sunset prayer.
“It’s quite disconcerting. This should not be happening here,” Soharwardy said.
The alleged break-in comes after a mosque was deliberately set on fire in Peterborough, Ontario, in an incident police are treating as a hate crime, but Soharwardy said it’s “too soon to jump to conclusions” about what’s behind the Calgary incident and unclear if the mosque was also vandalized.
The broken doors and missing items were discovered shortly after Soharwardy told people gathered at City Hall on Monday evening for a vigil that in the wake of the violence in Paris, he’s heard from Muslims living in Canada who’ve been told to “go back home.”
“This is our home. This is our country. Your country, my country, every Canadian’s country,” Soharwardy said.
The Calgary Imam told the crowd when a Muslim commits a crime, “it should not be linked with the entire community.”
“We should send a message … that hate against Muslims should be seen as a terrorism as well,” he said.
For the third night in a row, Calgarians held candles outside City Hall in a show of sorrow, sympathy and solidarity with the people of France following the deadliest attack in that country since the Second World War.
More than 75 people attended a candlelight vigil on Monday evening hosted by the Muslim Council of Calgary, an organization that represents more than 50,000 Sunni Canadian Muslims in Calgary.
The group “categorically condemned the horrific attacks,” which the self-proclaimed Islamic State, or ISIS, has claimed responsibility for.
“Killing innocent people will always be wrong,” Imam Fayyaz Tilly of the Muslim Association of Calgary told the crowd.
In a prepared news release that was read at the vigil, the Muslim Council of Calgary said, “We take such cowardly attacks as attacks against all humanity.”
“Muslim Council of Calgary stands firmly committed to speak and work against violent extremism.”
As people of all ages and faiths held candles, they listened to speakers including Soharwardy, founder of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada.
He told the crowd the persons responsible for the attacks in Paris are “monsters.”
“Yes, their names are Muslim, they pray like Muslims, they dress like Muslims, they read the Qur’an, but they are not Muslims at all,” he said.