On Friday, residents living in Cold Lake, Alberta came together to turn a negative, hateful message into a positive one. Overnight, the exterior of the Cold Lake Mosque was defaced with hateful, racist “Go Home” graffiti and the windows were broken.
The vandalism comes after recent attacks on Canadian soldiers by extremist Muslim groups, although mosque board director Mahmoud El-Kadri doesn’t believe the vandalism is related. El-Kadri was the first to report the vandalism, which he noticed when he arrived on Friday morning to open the mosque for prayers. He said:
“My kids saw it and they started crying and I said: ‘Why are you crying?’ They said: ‘We were born here and raised here and this is our home.
According to El-Kadri, this is the first time the mosque has been vandalized in its four years in Cold Lake.
Mayor Craig Copeland says the vandalism is “extremely disappointing.”
“Just what’s spray painted on the mosque, I mean, ‘go home’… The Muslim community here is at home here in Cold Lake. It by no means represents Cold Lake. Some individuals took it upon themselves to do this.
All of Cold Lake is rallying around the mosque and the Muslim community. So many people from Cold Lake were coming up to them and apologizing and saying this by no means represents Cold Lake… There were actually several people in tears.”
When residents discovered what had been done to the mosque, they gathered and volunteered their time to restoring the building. The hateful red spray-painted messages were removed, the windows were fixed and “You are home” and “Love your neighbor” posters were put up.
Matt Downy, a Cold Lake resident who brought flowers to the mosque, said:
Nikki Williams, another resident who came to help, said:
“I just came to help these guys get it off the building and bring them supplies, a ladder, graffiti remover. Just trying to get it off. I think it’s a terrible thing. I think it shows just how ignorant people are about the whole situation. The people who go to this mosque, I’ve been born and raised with since I was a little kid. This is their home.
Kelly Ross works at a neighboring business to the mosque, and she recalls the people were eager to lend their time and effort.
“People were coming off the street [asking] ‘can I donate money to help fix the window?’ ‘Can I donate my services? And once we go the buckets, everyone just started coming. We didn’t even ask. We didn’t even have to ask.”
This is what the Cold Lake Mosque looks like now. Well done, Albertans!
Police are currently investigating the vandalism.