Interfaith communities across southeast Michigan expressed their sympathies following vandalism to a Rochester Hills mosque.
A window in the front doors of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community’s Mosque, located at 1730 West Auburn Road in Rochester Hills, was shattered after evening prayers around 9:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 8.
Muhammad Ahmad, director of outreach at Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of Michigan, said broken glass was found inside and outside the mosque.
The Oakland County Sheriff’s department is investigating. Deputies said surveillance video showed a male near the mosque around the time of the incident. A similar incident occurred that same evening at a nearby Walgreen’s.
It is unknown whether the incidents are related.
“Our community is a very peaceful community,” Ahmad said Monday. “We have a relationship with all of our interfaith leaders, as well as our community leaders. We have not seen an incident like this in the past 20 years, since we’ve been here in this community.”
Ahmad said the evening prayer was the last of five that day. His 8-year-old son was among children and adults present when the window was broken. When the night concluded, everyone left through a side door.
It wasn’t until members showed up around 5:15 a.m. Saturday that the damage was realized.
“It’s kind of a bit rattling that we were still there when the incident happened,” he said.
On Monday, Oct. 11, the mosque’s members extended an open invitation for the suspect to meet with the community and its members. Ahmad said the group wants to talk, and that doors remain always open for Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
“We believe in forgiveness,” he said. “We don’t want revenge or to harbor any negative feelings.”
Bryan Barnett, mayor of Rochester Hills, said the incident seemed isolated.
“We have a great relationship with the folks there and want to make sure they feel safe and secure and are an important part of our community,” he said.
Messages of resilience
Messages of support have poured in from neighboring communities.
Lynne Muth, Faith in Justice chair of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Royal Oak, said she read the news with sadness.
“You and your leadership and members work hard to build bridges in southeast Michigan,” Muth wrote to Ahmad. “I want to share my sadness and prayers of hope that love and goodness will conquer hate. May you feel the love and hope from others at this time.”
Patty Rehfus, board president of the Congregation Shir Tikvah in Troy, said she was grateful nobody was injured and that her congregation stands in solidarity.
Carol Cooper, of Central Woodward Christian Church in Troy, said she is praying that the Muslim community will not live in fear and that they feel the prayers and support.
“I hope that whoever did this will not be able to rest until they come forward and confess and that the police may find clues so that justice can be served,” Cooper said.