In an apparent hate crime, a mosque in Australia has been targeted with a firebomb and sprayed with anti-Islamic graffiti while hundreds of Muslims were inside for evening prayer, prompting the Prime Minister to condemn the incident.
The attack occurred on Tuesday night near the Australian Islamic College in Perth. Local police said that accelerant was used to set the vehicles alight outside the Thornlie Mosque.
A car was gutted and four other vehicles were also damaged by heat, according to media reports. “This, undoubtedly is a criminal act of hate, but it is the act of a person or group not the greater whole,” a teacher at the Australian Islamic College said on Facebook.
An offensive anti-Islam message was also sprayed on a nearby wall but was later removed. Three men were seen fleeing the area after the attack, police said.
Police have released CCTV footage of the men wearing hooded jumpers, who were last seen running through an alley. According to the Imam of the mosque, hundreds of worshippers were praying inside at the time of the suspected petrol bomb attack, however no-one was injured.
The incident was condemned by the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull who said, “[Australia is] founded on a fundamental, a foundation of mutual respect. It’s the golden rule… I deplore and I cannot condemn strongly enough any attacks of that kind.” Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the incident appeared to be politically motivated.