Members of the Buddhist community are fearful the violence could escalate from vandalism to physical threats.
A surveillance camera outside the Hilda Jayewardenaramaya Buddhist Monastery in Ottawa, Canada, caught a vandal repeatedly hitting a buddha statue with a piece of wood. This marks the third act of vandalism against the statue in just over a year.
In March 2018, a vandal decapitated the statue, and after the monastery raised $7,000 to install surveillance cameras, the statue was damaged again several months later. A man was charged with mischief for the second incident, but was later acquitted in trial. The statue was a gift to the monastery from Sri Lanka and is valued at $8,000.
This time, as surveillance cameras show, an individual attacked the statue on Wednesday morning around 1:30 am with a wooden stick that he left at the base of the statue. A monk found the stick the next morning, on which was written “God’s first commandment: Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”
According to the Ottawa Citizen, the local Buddhist community is fearful that these incidents of vandalism could escalate into physical threats. Jinananda Thero, a local Buddhist who teaches mindfulness to schoolchildren, told the Ottawa Citizen that the vandalism has caused “an uneasy feeling.”
“We are a peaceful community,” Thero said. “Canada is a peaceful society, Ottawa is a beautiful city with beautiful people. We just want this not to happen again.”