CAIRO - Despite feeling worried at first, threats of attacks on mosques in the eastern Canadian city of Charlottetown have failed to intimidate the sizable Muslim community in the area.
This was getting too close for comfort, Zain Esseghaier, who has been a Charlottetown resident for the last 33 years, told Toronto Star.
That's a threat. I spent a good part of my life here. This is home for me.
Mosques in Charlottetown faced numerous threats of attacks in recent weeks.
Two weeks ago, a bottle of gasoline with a note reading Defeat Jihad was found on the front steps of the Masjid Dar As-Salam mosque.
The attack came two months after a truck of a contractor working on the building was set ablaze in August.
A pig's head was also left nailed to a post at the scene of a new mosque in the city last year.
Of course, you're rattled at first, Esseghaier said.
You wonder what will be the next step? Will someone throw a Molotov cocktail through the window while someone is worshipping?
This is not the first time mosques in Canada face threats.
In August, A commissionaire for the Victoria Coast Guard has threatened to blow up a new mosque in the southern city of Victoria.
Muslims make around 2.8 percent of Canada's 32.8 million population, and Islam is the number one non-Christian faith in the country.
A recent survey showed that the overwhelming majority of Muslims are proud to be Canadian, and that they are more educated than the general population.
Despite the threats of attacks, the Muslim community in Charlottetown remained steadfast, refusing to be intimidated.
No one is going to force me to leave, Esseghaier said.
We are determined to continue. We are not going to let this threat stop us from what we're doing. There is no doubt about that in my mind.
Facing their worries, 90 of 120 frequent worshippers showed up for the weekly Friday prayers.
Most believe a few ignorant, fearful people are to blame and are not representative of the community.
You look around and you say most people are good people and this is the exception to the rule, said Esseghaier.
We'll deal with it as an isolated case, even though it's the third time. It doesn't represent the values of the people in this province.
Charlottetown is the provincial capital of Prince Edward Island, which is home to roughly 500 Muslim residents.Forced for years to pray in basements, gymnasiums and university classrooms, the mosque was a way of retaining the province's Muslim population, said the society's president Najam Chishti.
Living in Charlottetown since 1979 with his wife and three children, the retired chemist could not understand why people would attack his religion.
We just want to ask, What have we done that would warrant this? What are they are afraid of?' Chishti asked bitterly.
Standing up to bigotry, Chishti said mosque attacks have prompted Charlottetown Muslims to engage with residents to erase fundamentalist stereotypes.We are peaceful people, said Chishti.