CANBERRA, Australia: Pakistan’s Deputy High Commissioner Dr Khalid Ejaz has said attack and vandalizing of Canberra Islamic Centre (CIC) would never stop the Muslim community from performing their duties and doing good deeds.
In his message after the attack on the CIC, the deputy high commissioner voiced concern over the growing incidents of fires and attacks on mosques in Australia.
“We express solidarity with the management and worshipers of the Canberra Islamic Centre,” he said. Dr Ejaz appreciated the courage, fortitude and determination shown by the Muslims living in Australia.
“We hope that such incidents will not deter them (Muslims) from performing good deeds and having cooperation with other communities.”
Police are investigating an attack that triggered fire at Canberra’s largest mosque.
Police said ACT Fire and Rescue responded to an alarm at the Canberra Islamic Centre on Clive Steele Avenue in Monash on Saturday.
“On arrival, firefighters located smoke coming from the prayer hall at the centre, and were quickly able to extinguish a small fire within an adjacent storeroom,” police said in a statement.
In his message, Executive Committee Canberra Islamic Centre President Mohammed Suhail Khan said a forensic investigation was underway and will be updated as more information comes to light.
“At 11:35pm on Saturday, September 7, the security alarm system for Sabah Al Ahmad Masjid was set off. The police and fire brigade were called to the scene. It appeared that hooligans have thrown a rock and accelerant in the storeroom area adjacent to the mosque and set alight,” he said.
Suhail said the quick action of emergency services saved the CIC from further damage.
The expanded Ahmad Al Sabah Masjid and Islamic Education Centre opened in May last year. It serves as a focal point for all Muslims in Canberra, providing a place for prayers, education, cultural events and religious gatherings.
The Monash centre has been the target of sporadic attacks. In 2014, vandals broke in twice over two weeks and caused extensive damage. These attacks appear to have been motivated by hatred against Muslims.