A Western Australia mosque attack has left hundreds of people shocked and terrified as the country prepares for its upcoming federal parliamentary election on July 2.
According to The Australian, hundreds of people were praying at Perth’s Thornlie Mosque at about 8 p.m. on Tuesday when an explosion was heard outside.
It appears that the attackers poured petrol into a Toyota Prado 4WD parked by the mosque and set it ablaze, Perth Now reported. The fire quickly spread to three other cars parked nearby. However, the police and firefighters were able to douse the flames before it spread further.
— Dani Le Messurier (@danilemess) June 28, 2016
Anti-Islam slogans were also painted on the walls of a nearby Islamic college during the Australia mosque attack. However, no one was injured in the attack.
At the moment, no suspects have been apprehended. However, an investigation has commenced into the incident. The police are searching for three men who were spotted running away near the Australia Islamic College after the explosion. CCTV footage has been released showing the hooded men as they escaped from the crime scene, ABC reported. They were later tracked to Hughenden Drive where a car had reportedly been parked.
Yahya Adel Ibrahim, a teacher at the college and leader at the mosque, revealed on Facebook that people stayed to finish their prayers after the explosion. Ibrahim, who described the Australia mosque attack as a “criminal act of hate,” said the local Muslim community would not resort to “hating and playing blame games.”
“This, undoubtedly is a criminal act of hate, but it is the act of a person or group not the greater whole,” he wrote.
The Principal of the Australia Islamic College, Dr. Abdullah Khan, stated that “people are shocked and disappointed,” Perth Now reported.
“The way I see it, it was more targeted at people praying than the school because the school was not in operation at that time,” he said.
The Australia mosque attack comes at a time when Muslims across the world are fasting and focusing on religious devotion to mark the holy Ramadan month. Following the attack, on Wednesday, several people returned to the Thornlie Mosque to partake in morning prayers, The Australian reported.
This is not the first time that a mosque has been attacked in Australia. Religious tension has been on the rise in the country in recent years. Last month, a mosque in Victoria was set ablaze by unknown attackers. According to the Herald Sun, that was the fifth time a place of worship had been set on fire since October 2015.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has joined other officials in condemning the Australian mosque attack. Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, who has expressed assurance that the government will work to keep Australians safe, said the mosque attack might have been politically motivated, Sky News reported.
“An attack outside a mosque would appear to be motivated by political events,” she said. “We believe that this matter should be thoroughly investigated, and I’m confident that it will be.”
Despite several concerns in the wake of the Australia mosque attack, Khan has stated that the college would be open on Wednesday for classes, ABC reported.
“We have given them instructions that it is business as usual, and children should come to school as they do every single day,” he said. However, some parents have confessed to the media that they are worried about letting their children go back to the school soon.
According to Perth Now, Khan said that the school is being protected by a security company round-the-clock. He also revealed that school authorities have reached out to the police and requested that a patrol car be dispatched to scout the area frequently until the Ramadan month ends to prevent a similar attack.
The police have asked anyone with information about the Australia mosque attack to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or via www.crimestopperswa.com.au