A Muslim man reads the holy book of Quran at a mosque during the second week of Ramadan in Jakarta, Indonesia, Monday, June 29, 2015. (AP / Tatan Syuflana)

Plans for a much-needed mosque near St. John's, N.L., have come to light through an act of vandalism at the work site.  

Safwan Choudhry of Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at Canada says local members of his organization discovered smashed windows, shattered light bulbs and a kicked-in fireplace in a building in Conception Bay South on Thursday.

He said in an interview Tuesday that the group had just begun work on the building to convert it into a mosque and had not yet publicly announced the project, and there were no signs indicating what was planned.  

Choudhry says police quickly identified three minors as the vandals and, in keeping with the spirit of the future mosque, the group has forgiven them and will not press charges.  

Choudhry says he doesn't know the motive behind the damage but says it's disappointing nonetheless and will likely cost more than $10,000 to fix.  

Const. James Cadigan of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary confirmed Tuesday morning that police responded to a call of property damage Thursday afternoon in Conception Bay South.

Members of the Muslim community in the St. John's area have long said their existing mosque is too small to accommodate their growing numbers.

"It's unfortunate that this mosque will unfortunately now be introduced through this negative news story," Choudhry said.

He called the future Baitul Ehsaan Mosque "a place of community gathering. It's a place of peace, a place of acceptance, a place of multiculturalism."  

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 2, 2021.