An Australian mosque was vandalized and firebombed on Tuesday evening, as hundreds of Muslims, including children, were inside for their evening prayers.
The vandals spray painted the words “F**k Islam” on a wall outside the mosque at the Australian Islamic College in Thornlie, near Perth, before setting a car on fire with an accelerant.
After hearing the cars explode, worshippers rushed outside to see vehicles ablaze and three people fleeing the scene. Authorities believe that a gasoline bomb was used inside one vehicle, which spread and damaged four others.
Luckily, nobody was injured during the attack, which was also in a heavily populated residential area.
“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,” Dr. Abdullah Khan, principal of the Australian Islamic College, told Perth Now.
The school is not caving to the act of hate, however, and will continue to operate normally.
“We have given [the parents] instructions that it is business as usual and children should come to school as they do every single day,” Khan said.
The school has been vandalized repeatedly over the last few years, but parents of students are now concerned about an increase in violent attacks.
“We get a lot of hatred, just racism really,” Zahra Alasadi, a mother of a student, told Perth Now.
Mosque Imam Yahya Adel Ibrahim took to Facebook on Tuesday to speak out about the incident, noting that it was the act of a few individuals and not an entire portion of society.
“Thankfully our community won’t start hating and playing blame games and singling out groups of people in our society. This, undoubtedly, is a criminal act of hate, but it is the act of a person or group not the greater whole,” Ibrahim wrote.
“Despite what just transpired, everyone stayed to finish their prayers refusing to give into the terror that had just occurred,” he continued. “I know the outpouring of support from the community will be overwhelming because Perth has the best, kindest, and most warm-hearted people.”
During a press conference on Wednesday, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull stated that he “cannot condemn strongly enough any attacks of that kind.”