EVEN as Ontario’s York Regional Police released images of four suspects in connection to property damage that occurred January 2 around 1:30 a.m. at the Islamic Society of Markham (ISM) mosque at 2900 Denison Street, the ISM responded by reaching out to the suspects (see photo), saying: “Our response to this incident will always be one of love, and open arms.”
The suspects – described as dark-skinned, with short, black hair, and ranging in age from 18 to 25 – are alleged to have urinated on, and thrown various items at, the building. They also broke a window. They fled in a late-model silver Honda Accord, which they had parked at the northeast side of the mosque. Two of the suspects are described as having medium builds. One suspect had a large build and the other, a slim build.
On Monday, the ISM sent The VOICE the following statement with the title: “We are responding to the recent vandalism incident with open doors and hearts”:
“In the aftermath of the potentially hate-motivated recent attack, we are opening our doors to the community.
“As has been reported recently in the media, the quiet community of the ISM was recently vandalized.
“We would like to thank the efforts of our neighbours, communities, and friends who came forward to stand in solidarity.
“We have been working with the police, and we understand that the criminal investigation has proceeded diligently. We further understand that a number of suspects are under investigation. At this time, while we respect, and ask the community to respect the integrity of the investigation, we can say that our response to this incident will always be one of love, and open arms.
“Islam teaches us that the quality of mercy and forgiveness are of tantamount importance. Our aims will always be, in addressing whoever is eventually arrested under the investigation, through the lens of rehabilitation, reintegration, and ultimately, we hope through a lens of forgiveness.
“We have no interest in punitive punishment being meted out to the attackers.
“We have an interest in the attackers finding their way back to a better path.
“The ISM will be inviting neighbours, as well as our friends, to come and break bread with our congregants over the next few weeks.”