Representatives from a mosque in downtown Hamilton are speaking out after they say a bomb threat was made against the mosque on Friday, calling the incident "disturbing and concerning."
"A bomb threat was made to the Ibrahim Jame Mosque in relation to a congregational prayer," said a statement posted on the mosque's Facebook page on Saturday.
Sayed Hashemi, president of the mosque, told CBC News that the threat was made after Friday prayer, just after 2 p.m.
He said there were "around 400 people" in the building.
According to Hashemi, it was Hamilton's police chief who asked him to "evacuate the building as soon as possible due to a bomb threat."
"Everyone was scared and panicked," Hashemi said.
He said police and a bomb squad then checked the building but no bomb was found.
Fire set at mosque in 2016
"At this time, we know that many may be deeply concerned and worried. After all, our mosque faced a serious arson attack in 2016 by an Islamophobe who wanted to actively hurt our congregation," the statement on Facebook said. It noted that the individual involved was sentenced to 25 months in jail.
Around 11 p.m. on Sept. 14, 2016, a fire was set at the doorway of the mosque. It was stopped by Syrian refugees who put out the small fire and helped police catch a suspect.
Tthe 39-year-old man who had pleaded guilty to the arson received the 25-month sentence in May, 2017.
In Saturday's statement the mosque said it appreciates "the swift action of Hamilton police to ensure that our congregation was safe."
It also urged people "not to speculate and to allow the investigation to unfold."
This is 'a threat to us all': mayor
Hamilton Mayor Andrea Horwath issued a statement on Saturday saying she was "shocked and horrified" to learn about the bomb threat.
"A threat to our Muslim community is a threat to us all. I have spoken to the masjid Imam, Ayman Al-Taher, to offer the City of Hamilton's full support," Horwath said in the statement.
She also reaffirmed the city's commitment "to continue to tackle Islamophobia and the hate that specifically targets this community."
"As mayor, it is a top priority to take on systemic racism, hatred, and discrimination in all forms and to work with community leaders to make Hamilton the same and welcoming community that everyone deserves," Horwath added.
Hamilton Centre Member of Parliament Matthew Green also offered support.
"I denounce these acts of intimidation against the Muslim community and will look for the perpetrator to be held accountable," he said Saturday evening.
In its statement, the mosque thanked police, Horwath, Green and its neighbours "for their solidarity."