Queensland Premier Peter Beattie personally visited the burnt-out mosque at Kuraby, on Brisbane´s southside, to call for religious tolerance.
“I went personally as a clear signal that I expect tolerance and that we will not accept acts of violence of this kind,” Beattie said Saturday. “The Australian way is a fair way. This is un-Australian.”
A Muslim taxi driver alerted fire officers to the suspected arson attack on the timber and iron building just after 3 a.m. local time. Authorities were investigating the blaze.
Queensland Fire and Rescue Authority area director Tim Beckett said identifying the cause was expected to take some time because of the amount of damage and the political ramifications “if they make a wrong call.”
The latest incident is one of a number involving Queensland mosques and schools since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States, believed to have been carried out by Muslim extremists.
Queensland´s Anti-Discrimination Commission has received reports of an Islamic student bus being stoned shortly after the U.S. attacks.
A mosque in Holland Park, on Brisbane´s southside, was firebombed a week ago but not seriously damaged.
Amjad Mehboob, chief executive officer of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, said security arrangements at the Holland Park mosque and another at Darra, also on the city´s southside, had foiled apparent plans for more attacks there late last night.
“I´m told police have registration numbers of some cars that apparently pulled up at the mosques,” he said. “When they realized there were people there, they drove away quickly.”
Mehboob said the Islamic community would ask state premiers throughout Australia for regular police patrols of mosques and Islamic schools in light of the Kuraby incident.
Mehboob added he was surprised the Muslim community in Brisbane seemed to have been particularly targeted since the U.S. attacks, given it was much smaller than those in other capital cities. “It´s not very prominent,” he said. “It´s a very harmonious community.”