London police are investigating after Islamophobic graffiti was found scrawled on the sidewalk outside the London Muslim Mosque over the weekend.
The message, which read “FOR THE TEMPLE MOUHAMED (sic.) RAPES KIDS,” was discovered by a community member on Saturday and was passed along to mosque leadership, said Ali Chahbar, the facility’s outreach coordinator.
Officers were later notified about the message, and are investigating the incident, police told 980 CFPL.
“We have to be ever so vigilant. The message is a hate message, and we have to call the authorities, we have to make sure our community is protected,” Chahbar said. Doing so while keeping the community from living in a state of fear is a tough balancing act, he said. “Unfortunately it’s the new normal.”
“We can’t do much about that but we can do something about being positive and making lemonade out of lemons, which means doing the best that we can do stand our peaceful and loving ground, and try to have these ignorant people… maybe the light will go on in their heads, or take their blinders off to see that Muslims and the Muslim community is not a threat. To the contrary, they’re an asset.”
In a statement posted to Twitter, London Mayor Ed Holder described the graffiti as “disgusting and vile.”
Despite the incident, Chahbar said mosque members felt safe in London and leadership would remain positive.
“London is a safe community, a loving community,” he said.
“Again, you have to stay alert because of the obvious.. what could potentially happen. We’re balancing that,” Chahdar added. “But our message is one of positivity and one of being quite optimistic about what the future holds.”
The graffiti comes amid a rise in hate crime incidents across the country in recent years. According to the latest figures from Statistics Canada, 2,073 hate crimes were reported to police agencies across Canada in 2017, an increase of more than 600 from the year before.
Religiously-motivated hate crimes saw the largest increase, from 460 in 2016 to 842 in 2017. Hate crimes reported toward Muslims rose from 139 in 2016 to 349 in 2017, the largest increase seen among religion-motivated hate incidents.
It also comes three months after the deadly mosque attacks in New Zealand that left 51 people dead.
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