Muslim leaders are shocked over a fire bombing outside a Perth mosque but say the hate crime will not stop people going about their everyday lives. A suspected petrol bomb exploded outside the Thornlie Mosque in Perth’s south as hundred of worshippers attended a prayer service on Tuesday night but no one was injured when the four-wheel-drive exploded.
The fire spread to three other vehicles and anti-Islamic graffiti was written on a wall of the associated Australian Islamic College on Tonbridge Way in Thornlie just before 8pm.
But it hasn’t stopped dozens of people reportedly returning to the mosque on Wednesday morning for prayers as part of the holy month of Ramadan.
Thornlie Mosque & Australian Islamic College leader Yahya Adel Ibrahim described the incident as a hate crime but said people should not have to change their way of life and add extra security on account of a few people.
“Australia is built on fellowship, mateship and giving people a fair go and acceptance and love and we’re not going to let that change on account of a handful of criminals,” he told ABC radio. He was thankful no one was hurt and said everyone stayed to finish their prayers and refused to give into the terror that had just occurred.
“Tens, if not hundreds of people have asked if they can help with the clean-up and one of the silver linings of this hate-infused atrocity is that it actually brings us together,” he said.
Australian Islamic College executive principal Abdullah Khan said he was shocked by the attack but it would be business as usual as the school stayed open on Wednesday.
“The people who were praying last night, they came out obviously when they heard this,” he told ABC radio.
But after some time, when they saw that emergency services and police were there, they went back into the mosque and continued their prayer, he said.
“That’s the message that we want to send to those people that we will not become part of supporting their agenda.
“It’s business as usual, we will continue as everyday life as usual, so that’s the message.” Mr Khan said he had been constantly on the phone since the incident, receiving calls of support from politicians, police and other community members.
There had been graffiti at the school in the past but not in about a year, he said.
The parent of a five year-old who attends the school, Ahmed, said he would keep his daughter home this week.
“What do you tell them? How do you tell them,” he told ABC radio.
The local MP whose electorate covers Thornlie, Chris Tallentire, condemned the attack after attending the scene.
“The fact is that people were at the school at 8pm at night doing their prayers so perhaps there is some connection there but it is so sad,” he told 6PR radio on Wednesday.
“Thank goodness no one was hurt but really this has to be described as an act of urban terror.” Police are searching for three men who escaped and were last seen running next to the college towards Spencer Road.