Mike Walker Videojournalist, CTV News Toronto
TORONTO — Toronto Police are investigating after a Scarborough mosque was broken into and vandalized over the weekend.
The vandalism at the Baitul Jannah Islamic Centre at Kingston Road and Brimley Road was discovered when the mosque opened at around 5:30 a.m. Sunday for morning prayer.
Multiple prayer rooms were vandalized, several copies of the Quran thrown to the floor, two donation boxes were smashed and the office was ransacked.
“It’s very sad and we are sorry to have this in our community and in our mosque,” said Atiquar Rahman, President of Baitul Jannah Islamic Centre.
Rahman believes the suspect(s) broke into the mosque sometime overnight through a window or doors that were found open when he arrived this morning.
In addition to the vandalism, several surveillance cameras were disconnected and the surveillance system’s digital video recorder was stolen.
“It was pre-planned I think – so we don’t have anything to show,” said Rahman.
Officials say the mosque has been targeted several times since 2018, with similar acts of vandalism and theft occurring.
In one instance, more than a dozen donation boxes containing thousands of dollars were stolen, according to Rahman.
“We had 15 and they left one of them – they took money and broke doors, we’ve had to change the locks several times,” said Rahman.
The Muslim community is feeling helpless and calling for justice after repeated acts of vandalism.
Mosque officials say the incidents have placed the community in a state of fear and many are not willing to donate to the mosque.
Officials say they have provided police surveillance images from previous incidents, but are still waiting for justice as the mosque continues to be targeted.
“Nothing happened after we called police and we don’t know if they arrested or laid charge against someone,” said Shahab Siddique who is a member of the board of directors who recalls eight incidents. “This is a religion of peace and there are some people who hate us, this is shocking and we are really devastated.”
Worshipers arriving at the mosque Sunday for prayer were devastated and shocked after learning of this latest incident.
“For somebody to have so much hate against a place like this if it’s one group or different groups having the same sentiment it’s really heartbreaking,” said Rizuan Rahman.
Scarborough Southwest MPP Doly Begum has prayed at the mosque in the past and called this latest incident “disgusting.”
“I’m really sad to see what’s happening. I pray here and I’ve seen this happen before,” said Begum who is calling for justice and more action from the government to address Islamophobia.
“First addressing Islamophobia, calling Islamophobia for what it is. Making sure we’re making sure places of worship are safe, making sure we are protecting our worshipers, making sure we have a directorate for anti-racism in our province.”
Special constables with Toronto Police arrived at the mosque on Sunday afternoon to investigate. At this point, there is no information on potential suspects and no indication if it’s connected to previous acts of vandalism.
“We are here, we are Canadian and we want a peaceful life in this community,” said Rahman.