TORONTO, June 4 (Reuters) - Vandals smashed 30 windows of a Toronto mosque and damaged nearby cars after the arrest of 17 suspected al Qaeda sympathizers accused of planning bomb attacks. Canadian Muslims expressed fear on Sunday that a backlash had begun.
The vandals struck overnight at the west-end mosque, a police official said on Sunday. A second official said he had no information on any link between the incident and the arrests, which began late Friday.
"The actual weapon that was used to break (the windows) is unknown," said secretary Ameer Ali of the International Muslims Organization of Toronto, which houses the mosque. "We believe it has to be a heavy instrument, possibly a sledgehammer or a pick ax, or it could even be a crowbar."
About five cars in a parking lot next to the mosque also had their windows broken, Ali said. He said the two-story mosque sees about 500 worshipers daily and the organization said the mosque is one of the largest in North America. . .
Mohammad Alam, president of the Islamic Foundation of Toronto, said the vandalism may be the beginning of religiously motivated reprisals against the country's Muslim population, estimated at more than 600,000.
He said he backed the government's efforts to combat terrorism, but emphasized nothing had been proven in the suspected bomb plot, which has gripped the country. . .
The Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations asked Muslims to co-operate with security agencies to fight terrorism. (MORE)
SEE: Canadian Muslims Relieved Terror Attacks Averted