2nd Upstate NY Mosque Painted With Racial Slur
Hudson, N.Y. (AP) – Authorities in a Hudson Valley city say they’re treating the spray painting of a racial slur on a wall of a mosque as a hate crime.
Police believe the graffiti appeared on an outside wall of the Hudson Islamic Center early Wednesday morning. During a news conference held outside the building later Wednesday, Chief Ellis Richardson said police had no solid leads in the case.
Abdus Miah, a city alderman who is Muslim, tells the Register-Star of Hudson that more than 100 people worship at 13-year-old mosque, located 110 miles north of New York City, where plans to build an Islamic center and mosque near ground zero has stirred a national debate.
Other apparent anti-Muslim incidents under investigation include last month’s disruption of services at a mosque in Waterport on Lake Ontario.
Phoenix mosque vandalism being investigated by FBI
The FBI is investigating the recent vandalism of a Phoenix mosque under construction, officials said Wednesday.
The Arizona chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations had asked the FBI to investigate the vandalism of the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix, which occurred a few weeks ago, according to officials.
“We were made aware of the situation today, and we are looking into this matter,” FBI Special Agent Manuel Johnson said.
The vandalized mosque, near Interstate 17 and Northern Avenue, is being built across the street from the Islamic center’s smaller, existing mosque and has not yet been used by the public, Usama Shami, the center’s board chairman, said Wednesday.
Paint was spilled on the floor and several tall, arched glass windows were broken by what appeared to be gunshots, Shami said. There was also anti-Muslim graffiti.
Shami said the motivation for the vandalism could have been anything, but the controversy sweeping the country regarding the planned mosque near Ground Zero and the upcoming anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks has him concerned about a possible motive.
“It could be related to that or it could be a random act,” Shami said. “We really don’t know.”
Johnson, a media representative for the FBI Phoenix division, said he is not sure if the local investigation will be joined with the national investigation, but it is being determined by the Phoenix office.
“When we get information of a complaint with regards to a potential civil rights violation, we’re going to assess the situation,” Johnson said.
Tayyibah Amapullah, office director for the Arizona chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said she believes the FBI should investigate the vandalism and the motives because of the recent anti-Muslim incidents across the country.
“We feel that it’s related to the current nationwide anti-Muslim sentiment,” Amapullah said. “We’re erring on the side of caution and using our best judgment. We want heightened security just in case it is related.”
The Justice Department is investigating a handful of apparently anti-Muslim incidents in four states, including the stabbing of a Muslim cab driver in New York City.
FBI agents and civil rights division investigators also are looking into vandalism and other incidents at mosques or mosque construction sites in Arlington, Texas; Murfreesboro, Tenn.; Madera, Calif.; and Waterport, N.Y.
The Islamic organization waited to call upon the FBI until several weeks after the incident because the council thought the mosque had already reported the vandalism, Amapullah said.
The council is asking all mosques to report incidents, and if they fail to do so, then the council will step in and start aiding the mosques in the reporting process, Amapullah said. The Arizona chapter of the council communicates mostly with 19 places of prayer, not necessarily mosques, in the Phoenix area.
“We want to make sure the FBI is aware of all the damage,” she said.
The Phoenix mosque has not yet received an estimate on the damages, but Shami said the broken glass alone could cost $1,000 to $1,500 to replace.
The same mosque was vandalized in February, Amapullah said, by people who climbed to the top of the building and wrote on the roof so that it was visible from the interstate.