Canada: synagogue hosts Muslims after mosque arson

Following mosque arson, displaced worshipers welcomed with open arms by Beth Israel synagogue in Peterborough.

Shoshana Miskin,

Muslims praying (illustrative)
Muslims praying (illustrative)

A Muslim group has been welcomed to pray in the Beth Israel Synagogue of Peterborough, Ont., after their own mosque was damaged in an arson attack earlier this month.

A firebomb was deliberately placed in one of the windows of the Masjid al-Salaam mosque on Nov. 14, causing $80,000 in damage. Police believe it is part of a wave of anti-Muslim crimes following the recent bloody terrorist attacks in Paris, which took place the day before.

Larry Gillman, president of the Beth Israel Synagogue, explained why the unusual gesture was so important.

"As Canadians we have to stick together," he said in an interview with CBC's Metro Morning. "It's not about religion, it's not about race. Canadians do this."

After hearing the news of the arson attack, Gillman asked the synagogue's board of directors if they were willing to share their prayer space with the Muslim congregation. They voted unanimously in favor.

"Even though it came out of a tragedy, we are working together," said Kenzu Abdella, the president of the Kawartha Muslim Religious Association.

"We have more similarities than differences. We have so much common. At the end of the day, it's a house of God."