Mosque and church building bridges

By Gerald V. Paul

When Imam Hamid Slimi learned a nearby Catholic church had been vandalized, he took on the role of Good Samaritan and in one day encouraged his Mosque to work together to help their neighbor by raising $5,000.

“We believe there is no discrimination in charity. It is the act that is rewarded. It doesn’t matter who is the recipient,” said Slimi, imam of Sayeda Khadija Centre in Mississauga, who paid a visit to St. Catherine of Slena Roman Catholic Church.

Rev. Camillo Lando, who called for forgiveness on the perpetrator who ripped pages out of the Bible, broke the altar and threw the cross, was grateful this act from their neighbours. Lando estimated the damage, especially desecration of a statue of Jesus Christ, at $10,000.

Lando said, “Our attitude is to pray for the one who did it, to forgive and to forget. We have received many calls of support from the Muslim community, in addition to Imam Slimi.

“The statue of the Sacred Heart was mutilated. The arms were broken and there was black spray paint all over it. We will have to get it replaced,” Lando said.

While presenting the cheque to the church board recently, Slimi said 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.”

Lando added, “This is an act of confidence and understanding that we are walking together in this community. We keep our faith and we have to honour and respect people of other faiths.”

Peel Region Police have charged Iqbal Hessan, 22, with break and enter, committing an indictable offence and five counts of mischief over 5,000.

During the bail hearing, Hessan said he was “upset with the Christian religion.”

His father told the hearing that his son has been diagnosed with schizophrenia.

After learning of Hessan’s mental health history, police decided they were “not proceeding with a hate crime (prosecution) because there was no evidence of mal-intent,” said police spokeswoman Const. Fiona Thivierge.

Gerald V. Paul
Gerald V. Paul