Burned mosque throws open its doors to public

STANDING STRONG: Islamic Society of Toowoomba president Shahjahan Khan.
STANDING STRONG: Islamic Society of Toowoomba president Shahjahan Khan. Tara Miko

THE Garden City Mosque is rising from the ashes as extensive rebuilding works get under way.

After delays from police investigations into two arson attacks earlier this year, builders have stripped the interior bare and works have started to clear the mosque for a full rebuild.

"We are now at a stage where we have a builder helping us in cleaning up all the burnt parts that have to be replaced," Islamic Society of Toowoomba president Professor Shahjahan Khan said.

Worshippers have been praying in the neighbouring building on the same block since the second arson attack on April 17 this year.

Despite several appeals for information and an exhaustive police investigation, the April and January attacks remain unsolved.

Police are still hunting the person or persons responsible for the mosque fire and a $25,000 reward has been posted for information leading to an arrest or conviction.

The damage bill was estimated at about $700,000 with the Islamic and wider Toowoomba community rallying to raise funds for the rebuild.

The mosque has also been the target of graffiti vandals and a crude spray-painted message in white paint still remains on the fence bordering the property.

But despite the setbacks, Prof. Khan said the Islamic community remained strong and united with Toowoomba and support continued to flow from residents.

An open day this weekend will give residents a glimpse into how works are progressing and an opportunity to engage with the Islamic community and ask questions.

"Even before we were talking about having a mosque, we were talking very proactively with the community," he said.

"The Toowoomba community is quite engaging and is very proud of being multicultural.

"I thank the neighbours for their understanding and being so cooperative."

The Garden City Mosque open day runs from 11am to 1pm on Saturday.

The open day is part of the regular community engagement initiative developed by the Islamic Society of Toowoomba to promote openness, peace and harmony in the city.

Prof. Khan invited any residents with questions or inquiries about Islam to attend the event.

Topics:  editors picks faith islam mosque religion toowoomba

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