Saguenay mayor blasts "stupid" mosque attack
CHICOUTIMI - Police in Quebec's Saguenay region have been called in after a local mosque was vandalized over the weekend -- splattered with what could be pig blood.
Representatives of the area's small Muslim community say they believe it to be an isolated incident, and Saguenay Mayor Jean Tremblay agrees.
Contacted by The Canadian Press Sunday, Tremblay said he was shocked by what he termed an "isolated and stupid" act of intolerance against a place of worship.
The mayor insisted that most local residents would also be appalled by the attack.
"That's not the mentality people in the region have... All it takes is one or two stupid people for something like this to happen," he said in an interview.
He said the incident undermines the community's efforts to welcome diversity.
"This isn't the way to show we have an open mind," he said.
A letter was also sent to the mosque and to the local Radio-Canada station spouting anti-Islamic rhetoric.
Hussein Hassan, co-founder of the mosque, said he believes the actions are the work of "fanatics" and "unbalanced people" or "jokers," who are not representative of the citizens of Saguenay.
Denis Harvey, lieutenant in the Saguenay police service, said inciting hatred against a religious group is prohibited by the Criminal Code -- and this incident will be investigated.
The area around the doorway of the mosque was seen Saturday afternoon splattered in red.
An anonymous, printed note was left at the scene of the attack,which read in part, "You just moved here to our country to flee dictators, war, violence hatred and death to live happily and in good health away from all you left. Why do you come to this country if it's not to change the way you were living?"
The note also urged Muslims to "leave behind your hijab, burqa and sharia," referring to traditional Muslim clothing and law.
The mosque has been located at 555 Begin for about 16 years and has about 100 members, a total which includes three Quebecois converts, according to one report.
Chicoutimi is a borough of 68,000 residents within the city of Saguenay, which was formed in 2002 and now has about 145,000 residents. It is a 455 km drive northeast of Montreal .
-With a file from The Canadian Press