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Here’s How People Came Together After The Only Mosque In Peterborough Was Set On Fire

“As a Canadian I am ashamed that this hatred has been bestowed upon you."

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Less than 24 hours after their mosque was deliberately set on fire, members of the Muslim community in Peterborough, Ontario gathered for prayers in the mosque's parking lot. It's a powerful symbol of how the community is moving forward after the arson.

Christopher Katsarov / THE CANADIAN PRESS

The fire began at roughly 11 p.m. Saturday night inside the Masjid Al-Salaam mosque, not long after people had been inside celebrating the birth of a baby. Police later confirmed that the fire had been set deliberately.

“Offences such as this, committed in relation to a place of Worship are taken very seriously and the Police Service will make every attempt to determine who is responsible,” said a statement from Peterborough Police provided to BuzzFeed Canada.

Masjid Al-Salaam is the only mosque in Peterborough.

And right away she received replies from people showing support for her and other members of the mosque. “As a Canadian I am ashamed that this hatred has been bestowed upon you," said this woman.

Duane Rousselle, a local resident with no connection to the mosque, started the campaign. "What is most touching, I think is that many of the donors are living in poverty," he told BuzzFeed Canada. "They donated large sums of money nonetheless."

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Rousselle said he'd only expected to raise a couple hundred dollars.

"Some of the very large donations were made anonymous — one for $2,000, a couple for $1,000," he said. "That is remarkable."

The #Ptbomosque hashtag has also been trending thanks to people sharing the fundraiser link, and expressing support for the mosque.

This is a defining moment for #Ptbo. RT to show your support for Peterborough Mosque. #PtboMosque

Donate because no one should ever have to pay out of pocket to fix what hateful criminals broke #PtboMosque #cdnpoli https://t.co/kjGazY2nAx

Glad know Canadians care & are standing w/ #PtboKawartha Muslim neighbours, community, as we all must! #PtboMosque https://t.co/Cha1WEz6J3

Meanwhile, the Muslim community in Peterborough has already begun to clean up their mosque. Imam Shazim Khan is seen here inside the charred main floor of Masjid Al-Salaam.

Peterborough Mayor Daryl Bennett tweeted that local churches have offered their space to ensure local Muslims have a place to worship.

Several church groups have stepped forward, contacted Kawartha Muslim Religious Association to provide space for worship. Forward together.

Craig Silverman is Media Editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Toronto.

Contact Craig Silverman at craig.silverman@buzzfeed.com.

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