Vandals deface mosque in Cold Lake

Vandals have defaced a mosque in Cold Lake, Alta., smashing its windows and spray-painting the building with a racist message.

Two windows appear to be smashed in a photo taken by the local newspaper, the Cold Lake Sun. The words “Go home” are written multiple times across the outside of the building in red spray paint.

The vandalism at the mosque was discovered Friday morning and police are investigating.

Mosque board member Mahmoud Elkabri said he spotted the vandalism when he arrived to open the doors for prayers. Elkabri has lived in Cold Lake since 1996.

“My kids saw it and they started crying and I said: ‘Why are you crying?’ They said: ‘We were born here and raised here and this is our home,’” Elkabri told The Canadian Press.

Elkabri doesn’t believe the vandalism is linked to any anti-Muslim sentiment.

“I am very sure whoever did this could be just a drunk random person at nighttime or it could be … someone not from Cold Lake,” he said.

The vandalism comes just two days after a Canadian soldier was shot and killed by a radicalized Canadian at the National War Memorial in Ottawa. It’s also four days after another attack on Canadian soldiers in Quebec, which left one soldier dead and another wounded.

Both individuals responsible for the attacks were Canadian-born men who had recently converted to Islam. Ottawa shooter Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, 32, and Quebec attacker Martin Couture-Rouleau, 25, were both shot dead.

Investigators say the two men had each been radicalized by Islamic State ideology.

Muslim leaders in Canada have repeatedly condemned the radical Islamic State militant group, which has seized territory in Iraq and Syria and recruited hundreds of Westerners to its cause.

Prominent Muslim cleric Imam Syed Soharwardy of Calgary on Thursday urged mosque leaders across the country to be wary of converts who show signs of radicalization.

“They should take on the responsibility of checking backgrounds and staying in touch and make sure this person is not being recruited by any radical organization or terrorist organizations,” Soharwardy said on Thursday.

“I’m not saying don’t convert them, but we have to be aware of those activities and work with police intelligence to make sure that a criminal person who just converted to Islam does not commit a major crime.”

The town of Cold Lake is home to the military base where Canadian CF-18 fighters departed from earlier this month to participate in airstrikes against the Islamic State in Iraq.

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