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Instead of charges, group offers forgiveness and hopes to work with parents to ensure lesson learned
Last week’s vandalism of a new mosque being constructed in Conception Bay South has turned into a story of forgiveness and, hopefully, lessons learned.
An estimated $15,000 worth of damage was done to the former house being renovated into a mosque by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama`at Canada, which will be the group’s first mosque in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Omer Sajeed Mallhi, president of Newfoundland and Labrador Jama’at Ahmadiyya, said there had been previous incidents of vandalism at the Baitul Ehsaan Mosque — broken windows — but last week’s damage was “painful and stressful.”
“The perpetrators were minors and broke in and did a lot of damage,” Sajeed Mallhi said. “A huge window was broken, a fireplace destroyed, lighting fixtures, a sump pump, a dehumidifier and so much more.”
Sajeed Mallhi said that if a neighbour had not intervened, more damage would have been done.
He said the RNC identified the minors, and the parents have contacted the group.
“The Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama`at Canada has forgiven the perpetrators of this act of vandalism and hope to use the incident to help build bridges of understanding and tolerance,” national president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama`at Canada, Lal Khan Malik, said in a news release.
“We're deeply moved by the kind sentiments and support of various members of the local community as they learned of this abhorrent act. Our mosques will always remain open to all members of the community as a symbol of peace and togetherness.”
Sajeed Mallhi said that though they have forgiven the minors, they want to see them learn a lesson from the incident.
“We have something planned to talk to the parents,” he said. “We want the (kids) to learn a lesson from what they have done.
“We can repair the mosque. We didn’t want the incident to be (all negative). We want this incident to cause the whole society to come together. This incident doesn’t represent Newfoundland and Labrador. I hope coverage of this incident brings out the best of Newfoundland and Labrador.”
The Muslim Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (MANAL), meanwhile, issued a news release condemning damage and destruction “caused to any establishment, especially places of worship.”
“The mosque under construction is affiliated with the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at Canada, and not in any way associated with the Muslim Association of Newfoundland and Labrador,” the news release stated.
The association’s mosque, the Al Noor Mosque on Logy Bay Road in St. John's, is the first and currently the only mosque in the province, operated by the association since being built in the late 1980s.