Leaders from the House of Peace Mosque in Langwarrin say they are willing to forgive a group of young men who caused thousands of dollars worth of damage to their place of worship.
The group of intruders was caught on security camera breaking into the mosque in Melbourne’s south-east early on Sunday morning.
They damaged the prayer area, broke into a locked office and storeroom, and tore up a badminton court and book displays.
They also found some bikes in a store room and rode them around the prayer area, then had an apparent running race in that same spot.
The mosque’s imam, Wadood Janud, told Channel Nine that he and his family live downstairs at the facility. He said he was woken up to the sounds of the vandalism, calling police before attempting to scare the group off.
The praying area is a place where you don’t even wear your shoes – that was really painful, Janud told Channel Nine after viewing the video.
The first thing I could find was a hockey stick, so I came out and banged it on the fence a couple of times. I saw them run out of the building.
Victoria Police said the group ran away before police arrived. Roving patrols and a search of the area failed to find those involved.
Frankston Crime Investigation Unit detectives searched the site for forensic clues on Sunday and police said they have received information regarding the incident. They appealed for the young men involved to come forward and own up.
Thousands of worshippers who visit the mosque will be upset about the crime, Janud and Ahmadiyya Muslim Association president Osama Ahmed both told Nine. However, the community would welcome the young men if they wanted to learn about the venue they had damaged, they said.
Most of the members of our community escaped persecution in other parts of the world and they moved here so they could live their life peacefully and worship the faith they want to worship, Janud said.
I will be more than happy to show them around and answer any questions they may have.
Victoria Police said anyone with information on the incident should call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.