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Peterborough: no to hate, yes to love

Janahan Aeron Ravikumar

November 30, 2015

During the night of November 14, the only mosque in the city of Peterborough was attacked. Arsons broke in and caused $80,000 worth of damage to the building. The Masjid Al-Salaam Mosque is the only Mosque in the city and is the place of worship for over 1000 people. The police classified the attack as a hate crime, coming not even 48 hours after the Paris Attacks. There had never been threats made against the Kawartha Muslim Religious Association (KMRA) before and this incident is the first of its kind in Peterborough.

The immediate reaction from the community was shock. How could someone do this? The Muslim population of Peterborough had lived here for decades with no troubles before. The Masjid Al-Salaam Mosque itself was purchased in 2001 and provided the first place were the KMRA community could come together. But out of the sadness, there was light.

Almost immediately after the news broke of the attack against the Masjid Al-Salaam Mosque, the entire city rallied. Peterborough resident Duane Rousselle established a crowdfunding page mere hours after the attack to pay for the $80,000 damages; 36 hours later, the page had exceeded its goal and had gathered more than $110,000. The KMRA eventually had to step in and have Rousselle close the page because there was no end in sight for the donations. All the money went to the Kawartha Muslim Religious Association but they intend it only for the Mosque reconstruction, all extra money will be given to charity.

Thousands have come together in solidarity for the KRMA, including many other religious groups in the city.  In solidarity with their brothers and sisters, several religious institutions have brought in those needing a place to worship. The first Friday after the attacks, the Mark Street United Church opened its doors and held Jumuah for all who wanted to attend. Trent, the local university, established a bus convoy for students to get there and the whole event became a solidarity stand for the community. On November 27, the Beth Israel Synagogue opened its doors and on December 4 Jumuah will be held at an Anglican Church.

The community has rallied and the whole community has said no to hate and no to violence. Yes to love and yes to peace. Only together can our community put this event behind us. And we already have. Everywhere you look, there is some poster that says solidarity with the Peterborough Muslim community. We have already put this tragedy behind us and have begun to rebuild. The peace cannot be the same as before, but it will be better. 

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