Frankston Times 21 June 2022

Page 5

Vandals invade peace mosque Liz Bell

MEMBERS of the Women’s Spirit Project. Picture: Supplied

Women’s group celebrates project success THE Women’s Spirit Project group is celebrating the conclusion of one of its major programs. The group recently finished its 2022 spirit of transformation program. The free 12-week program is for women aged over 24 who have experienced hardships like family violence, mental health issues, poverty, and unemployment. The course is run alongside facilitators and mentors who help the participants gain confidence and develop strategies to achieve their goals. Women’s Spirit Project founder Jodie Belyea said the 12-week pro-

gram “enables our participants to build their fitness, health and wellbeing.” “Our group completes the program inspired, empowered and motivated, and belonging to a supportive community of women. Participants have an increased sense of belonging and connectedness, reducing social isolation and loneliness. Their increased community spirit opens them to opportunities to further empower each other and in turn, inspire others,” she said. Members of the women’s group are aiming to complete a three-day

trek from Frankston to Cape Schanck in November. Belyea said “this lifeaffirming walk is open to all women in our community. We are offering a number of walking distances to ensure the event is accessible for women with varying fitness levels and from different backgrounds. Walk registrations will open early August 2022. In the lead up to the walk, we are planning to offer free catch up and connect walks for local women – designed to be fun, social outdoor activities that gradually build our strength and fitness.” For more information visit

AN overnight invasion of the Baitul Salam (House of Peace) Mosque in Langwarrin has shocked and frightened the members of the local Ahmadiyya Muslim community, who are calling for a stronger police presence in the area and heightened security. The mosque was broken into around 2am on Sunday by a group of 12 people, thought to be aged in their late teens to mid-20s. The intruders caused thousands of dollars damage, broke windows, rode allegedly stolen pushbikes through the mosque, and destroyed objects. They were caught on security camera mocking the Muslim prayers, with some allegedly were wearing head coverings that looked like hijabs. Mosque spokesman Aziz Bhatti said the intruders went downstairs to the living quarters of the Imam and his wife and two toddlers and banged on the doors. “They were terrified, they did not know who they were, or what they wanted,” he said. Police were called, but the intruders had left before they arrived. Bhatti said there had been “20 to 30” incidents and attacks at the mosque since it opened in 2008, despite the Ahmadiyya Muslim community trying hard to blend

peacefully into the community and inviting residents to barbecues and other events. He said the incident on Sunday was frightening for the Imam and his family, and traumatising for the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, many of whom had suffered persecution in Pakistan and other parts of the world. “I will be asking the Police Commissioner to intervene and to increase security around here, in all these attacks we have not heard back from police about any arrests or charged, it’s quite frustrating,” Bhatti said. In a 2015 attack on the mosque, an elderly mosque member had his nose broken. “It is really frightening for our community, and we want more effort into investigating the incidents,” he said. Frankston Crime Investigation Unit detectives are investigating. Police have been told it appears the youths rode bicycles through the main prayer room of the Leisureland Drive mosque before they forced open a locked door causing damage to the frame about 1.50am. Roving patrols and a search of the area failed to find those involved, however police have received information regarding the incident and the investigation is ongoing. Police are appealing for the people involved to come forward. Anyone with information is urged to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.



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Frankston Times

21 June 2022


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