CALGARY – The Muslim community in Calgary are inviting their neighbors of all faiths and backgrounds to visit the Ranchlands mosque, in a special open house event after recent act of vandalism targeting the religious minority.
“It is a religion of peace,” Alvi Islam, 15, told CTV News Calgary on Sunday, October 16.
“Our society these days, they incorporate terrorists and Muslims and I feel like that’s not right.”
“If they actually get to know who we are and what we believe in, they would know that that is definitely not what we want.”
Members of the Muslim Council of Calgary planned the special event after one of the organization’s brothers discovered last Saturday morning that the exterior of the mosque, located in the 7700 block of Ranchview Drive Northwest, had been vandalized.
“When they arrived here during our dawn prayers, they found the outer glass window of our facility broken and that’s when they reported what had happened to police,” said Mansour Shouman, a Muslim Council of Calgary director.
Syed Mohiuddin, a council director, found the incident troubling, referring to the organization’s contributions to the neighborhood since it opened, and participation in the community’s annual Stampede breakfast and hosting snow removal events to assist neighbors.
“It’s like a natural reaction that the people were really, really shocked to see what has happened,” explained Mohiuddin.
“We never expected it because we have been very outgoing and outreaching people ever since we were here.”
The event is planned on Sunday, November 13, at the Ranchlands Mosque, which will welcome Calgarians for the ‘Our House is Your House’ event.
The Islamic Association of NW Calgary will provide multicultural food from around the world during the event that will encourage healthy dialogue and allow non-Muslims an opportunity to experience the religious activities that occur within Islamic Centers.
“The end game is that we all need to talk and we all need to live together,” said Shouman. “There’s no place for hate amongst anyone here.”
The event comes after the third anti-Muslim incident to occur in Calgary.
“Members of our society are now feeling a bit worried that there’s been a sequence of events,” said Shouman.
“Starting at the (University of Calgary) with the posters of hate and then at one of our other prayer facilities in Queensland..”
Last week, an Islamic centre in Queensland was vandalized and a copy of the Qur’an set ablaze.
The Calgary Police Service continues to investigate the vandalism and the possibility of hate crime related charges.
Recently, anti-Muslim posters were placed on doors throughout the University of Calgary campus and Islamophobic pamphlets placed in mailboxes of homes in the northwest communities of Hillhurst and Sunnyside.
“My first thought is how is ignorance so prevalent in people?,” asked 15-year-old Ali Waseem after seeing the damage to the mosque he’s been attending for the last four years.
Waseem says he has experienced firsthand ignorance and intolerance in Calgary.
“In Grade 9, every single day I was called a terrorist at school.”
In an attempt to deter future vandalism, the organization has installed security cameras outside the mosque.