A mosque in Ontario, Canada has donated thousands of dollars to a nearby Catholic church after it was hit with a spate of vulgar acts of vandalism last month.
When Hamid Slimi, imam of the Sayeda Khadija Centre in Mississauga, heard of the incidents, which included burned Bibles, a broken altar and a desecrated cross, he visited the church. He was shocked after Father Camillo Lando showed him some of the vandal’s behavior that was caught on security video.
“It was a very bad scene,” said Slimi. “The guy who did it ripped pages out of the Bible. He broke the altar. He threw the cross,” said Slimi. “When I saw this, I thought it was pure injustice. It was just wrong.”
Slimi then returned to the mosque and urged his worshipers to donate. They raised almost $5,000 in one day.
“I told my community, there is nothing we can do now. But the church needs funds,” said Slimi. “We believe there is no discrimination in charity. It is the act that is rewarded. It doesn’t matter who is the recipient.”
The incident shook the church and the congregation, which was established in 1956 — especially the desecration to the statue of Jesus Christ, said Father Lando.
“He mutilated the statue of Sacred Heart,” he said. “The arms were broken, and there was black spray paint all over it. We will have to get it replaced,” he said.
He estimated the damage to the property at $10,000. But even then, he urged his congregation to forgive.
“Our attitude is to pray for the one who did it. To forgive and to forget,” said Lando, who said that, in addition to Slimi, he has received many calls of support from the Muslim community.
On Wednesday, Slimi presented Lando and the church board with the cheque. He told the grateful parishioners his congregation was pleased to help and felt it was the least they could do.
“I told them, this is what any Muslim would do,” he said.
Lando plans to tell his congregation about the donation this weekend at mass.
“I will tell my congregation that it was really a beautiful and generous gesture on their part,” he said. “And also it’s an act of confidence and understanding. We are walking together in this community. We keep our faith, and we have to honour and respect people of other faiths.”
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