When a local mosque was burned down, a town raised $80k to rebuild it in less than a day.

On Nov. 15, 2015, residents of Peterborough, Ontario woke up to the kind of news that makes your heart sink.


A mosque — the only one in the community — was burned down. Though the motive for the attack is still unclear, police have declared that the fire was set intentionally, and the blaze is being investigated as a potential hate crime.

Since the Paris attacks, hostility towards Muslims has become far more visible in Europe and North America.

The U.K. has experienced a huge spike in attacks against Muslims. Many U.S. presidential candidates have called for halting the flow of Syrian refugees into the country — especially if they're not Christian. Some have gone so far as to propose shutting down mosques and have insinuated that American Muslims cheered on the 9/11 attacks.


But residents of Peterborough refused to give into suspicion and fear and were determined to do something to help their neighbors rebuild.

"Damages are estimated to exceed $80K. We encourage members of the community, of all or no faiths, to help the Muslim community restore their place of worship," Peterborough resident Duane Rouselle wrote on a fundraising page he created.

Rouselle told Upworthy that he donated all he had — the 17 cents in his bank account.

"When I heard the news — I heard it from somebody who lived beside the Mosque, before it hit the news — I felt compelled to do something, anything," he wrote in an e-mail.

The fundraiser hit its $80,000 goal before the first day was over.


And the donations kept pouring in. As of Nov. 23, 2015, the community had raised over $110,000 to help rebuild the mosque.

The community didn't just rally to raise money.

Other religious groups in the city immediately stepped up to offer displaced members of the mosque space to gather, worship, and pray.



"There are no words to describe how amazing our community has represented itself as a giving, loving, peaceful and supportive community," Rouselle wrote.

The mosque will be able to rebuild, and the Peterborough community deserves massive congratulations for living up to its highest ideals.

In the wake of a terrible tragedy, it's natural — and understandable — to be afraid. It's easy to look at the perpetrators of unspeakable violence and draw quick, and not always accurate, conclusions about people who look like them.

"Our acts of kindness should not conceal the very real threats that people have to live with on a daily basis," Rouselle wrote in his e-mail. And he's right.

It's important to stand up for the least empowered members of our communities — even when we don't know them that well, or disagree with them.

In the wake of the positive press, some have pointed to the Peterborough imam's retrograde views on marriage and women's rights. And it's OK to be offended by them! But they're not a reason to not help a community. And they certainly don't justify what happened to the mosque.

Far too often, we turn to people in our communities who look different, think differently, pray differently and think, "You are other," and "We're afraid of you." And we turn our backs.

Peterborough didn't. They said, "You are all one of us. And we've got your back."

We could all stand to learn from them.

More
Vaping 360

A young doctor has taken to TikTok, the new social media app popular among Gen. Z, to share information about important health issues, including the negative side effects of vaping.

Dr. Rose Marie Leslie, 29, is a second-year family resident at the University of Minnesota Physicians Broadway Family Medicine Clinic.

When she first joined the platform six months ago, she initially started sharing videos about her hectic life as a resident. But whenever she'd share videos with medical facts, she noticed more comments and likes.


Dr. Leslie on TikTok www.tiktok.com


Keep Reading Show less
popular

There's nothing like a good reunion story to get you misty in the ol' tear ducts. Kate Howard, the managing editor of Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting, shared a story of randomly running into the dog she used to foster on Twitter. You know all those dog reunion movies? The ones with names like A Dog's Hope and A Dog's Sloppy Kiss? The ones that make you cry buckets no matter how hard you think your heart is? Well, this is that, but in real life.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

The great thing about American democracy is the separation of powers. The federal government has rights, states have rights, counties have rights, cities have rights, and we, as people, have rights, too.

Heck, even animals have some rights in the good ol' U S of A.

The president of the United States is not a king or a dictator so a team of U.S. mayors, led by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, are asking to go over his head to negotiate directly at next month's UN climate change conference in Santiago, Chile.

Keep Reading Show less
popular