Mosque arson attacks 'will not divide Toowoomba'
OUR city will not be divided.
A second arson attack on the Garden City Mosque will not destroy the peaceful and harmonious culture for which Toowoomba has come to be known.
It's the message from the city's religious and community leaders who have united in a show of solidarity as investigations continue into the second suspicious fire which caused extensive damage to the mosque.
Islamic Society of Toowoomba president Professor Shahjahan Khan was yesterday given access into the burned mosque.
"The Imam's office and the adjacent visible toilet have been burned to the ground.
"The main prayer area, the floor and the roof, are all burned.
"All the air-conditioning has been burned and melted."
Prof. Khan estimated the damage bill to be in excess of $100,000 but said the Islamic community had forgiven those responsible.
"What I have seen is the huge damage and we have to see if it is structurally damaged," he said.
"But with the kind of support we get from the community, hopefully we will be putting in plans to get back to the normal worshipping at the mosque."
He said the attack did not make the Islamic community feel unsafe.
"There is no fear or anything," Prof. Khan said.
"It gives us only strength to work further toward the unity of this community.
"We feel sorry for this person. We forgive him. We have nothing against him."
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Friday afternoon prayers were moved to the adjacent Newington Park.
Imam Abdul Kader said the fire would only serve to bolster the Toowoomba community's unity.
"This is not what Toowoomba stands for," he said.
"You don't get disturbed by this individual incident.
"We remain positive regardless."
Bishop Robert McGuckin said integration was critical to any society moving forward.
"We should offer friendship, hospitality and a genuine welcome to each other," he said.
"Criminal activity and extremism must be rejected by everyone.
"We should all work together and look out for each other."
Mayor Paul Antonio said he was disappointed the mosque appeared to have been targeted again.
"It is disappointing but in our society we have a wide range of thoughts and behaviours and sadly this is the bottom of the trough and this is what we're seeing here today," he said.
Member for Toowoomba South John McVeigh said the mosque was a welcome addition to the city.
"Those who perpetrated this crime must be brought to justice," he said.
The International Food Festival planned for tomorrow will go ahead, but has been moved to the Clive Berghofer Recreation Centre at the University of Southern Queensland.
It runs from 11am - 5pm.