'Places of worship are sacred': Hate crime unit investigating vandalism at Cambridge, Ont. mosque

The Waterloo Regional Police Service's hate crime unit is investigating after a mosque in Cambridge, Ont. was severely damaged by vandalism.

Police said the vandalism was reported at the Baitul Kareem Mosque on Wednesday around 5:30 p.m. They believe someone forced entry into the mosque and "caused significant damage."

Imam and missionary Fatir Ahmad came across the damage on Wednesday.

"I was personally appalled that this could happen over here, because a mosque represents peace and our whole motto from the Muslim community is love for all and hatred from none," he said.

Nabeel Rana with the mosque said the wires for the security system were cut during the vandalism.

"We need to have a better security system," he said.

“We are deeply disturbed by this senseless criminal act and the significant destruction towards the Baitul Kareem Mosque in Cambridge," Chief Bryan Larkin said in a news release. "Places of worship are sacred, and this criminal act cannot and will not be tolerated in Waterloo Region. Rest assured, we are actively investigating, and committing appropriate resources to this investigation. My thoughts are with our Muslim community as they cope with this destructive and hateful crime.”

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama`at Canada said the mosque suffered tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage.

Officials said there was damaged and stolen property, and the suspects also destroyed boxes filled with books and flyers.

“We are deeply troubled to learn of this attack on the Baitul Kareem Mosque,” national president Lal Khan Malik said in the release. “Our mosques have always served as symbols of peace in the community, and it is hurtful for us to see our mosque attacked and vandalized in this fashion.”

"People are devastated," Cambridge Mayor Kathryn McGarry said. "Any act of vandalism is a hateful thing to begin with, but when it happens in a place of worship, it just feels worse."

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama`at Canada said they've heightened security measures at mosques and prayer centres across Canada.

WRPS said they've been in contact with members of the mosque and others in the Muslim community "to offer support and discuss safety measures." The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to contact police or Crime Stoppers.

With reporting by CTV Kitchener's Natalie van Rooy