Cambridge mosque vandalism not a hate crime: WRPS

After charges were laid in connection with a vandalism incident at a Cambridge mosque, the Waterloo Regional Police Service (WRPS) now says there's no evidence the act was a hate crime.

On Saturday, police announced charges against a 35-year-old Cambridge man, including break and enter, property damage over $5,000, possession of stolen property as well as Controlled Drug and Substances Act offences.

Police had previously said they were investigating the Wednesday vandalism at Baitul Kareem Mosque as a potential hate crime. Police Chief Bryan Larkin had called the incident "deeply disturbing."

But on Sunday, a spokesperson for WRPS said the incident isn't being deemed a hate crime.

"The evidence does not support the inference that the crime was motivated by racial or religious hatred," the spokesperson said in an email.

Police have not released the name of the accused.

Officials at the Baitul Kareem Mosque say the cleanup is now complete and the mosque is open again. Prayer services will resume on Tuesday for the Eid festival.

Community members say charges being laid gives them peace of mind.

"It feels great. Obviously, as a community we are very happy," said Imam Fatir Ahmad. "It's actually a good thing that it's not a hateful act."

"To have the police give it due attention and immediate attention gives us a lot of peace and comfort," said Asif Khan with Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at.

Ahmad pegged the damage to the mosque during last week's vandalism in the thousands of dollars.

"TV was stolen, the stove was completely damaged," he said. "Other than that they came upstairs, they took the hard drive, they also stole a projector as well."

The Muslim community seeing a response of love and support to the act of vandalism.

"We've had people from all walks of life reach out to us by email, by phone, coming to visit, children writing with chalk on the driveway and giving messages of sympathy and affection," Khan said.

"So many people have even tried to donate, but we're going to give those donations to the local homeless shelter," Ahmad said.

The Coalition of Muslim Women of Kitchener-Waterloo is stressing the importance of the community sticking together.

"The community is definitely doing a great job of reaching out and sending messages of solidarity," said Fauzia Mazhar, the coalition's executive director.