The only mosque in Peterborough, Ont., was ‘deliberately’ set on fire, police say

PETERBOROUGH, Ont. — The only mosque in Peterborough, Ont., was deliberately set ablaze on Saturday night, police and fire officials said.

Firefighters responded to the blaze around 11 p.m. at the Masjid Al-Salaam Mosque, quickly confining the fire to the main floor of the building.

Police wouldn’t say whether they believe the alleged attack was in response to the ISIL-linked attacks in Paris on Friday.

“If this is found to be a hate crime, it in no way represents the feelings of our community,” Mayor Daryl Bennett said in a statement on Twitter. “Attacking a place of worship is a despicable act. Masjid Al-Salaam, the name of the mosque, means Mosque of Peace.”

The building suffered heavy smoke damage inside, with little damage evident outside. Damage is estimated at $80,000, fire officials said. No injuries were reported.

“We’ve determined the fire was deliberately set … just by what was located,” Sgt. Tim Millard said Sunday. He would not elaborate on what discovery led investigators to believe it was arson.

The Ontario Fire Marshal is investigating and no further details will be released, Millard said.

Kenzu Abdellah, president of the Kawartha Muslim Association, said he was in shock when he heard of the fire, because members of the mosque have had a friendly relationship with the Peterborough community.

Maryam Monsef, the Liberal MP for Peterborough-Kawartha released a statement Sunday, saying she was “deeply concerned” about the fire.

“I know that the residents of Peterborough-Kawartha will be as upset as I am about this incident,” she said, “and that together we will continue to demonstrate that these sorts of incidents are in no way reflective of our community as a whole.”


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