Authorities are investigating an act of vandalism at an Islamic center in Kentucky, where red graffiti was discovered earlier this week.
The vandalism at the Louisville Islamic Center was spotted on Wednesday, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.
The newspaper reported that members saw spray-painted messages like “Nazis speak Arabic” and “Moslems – leave the Jews alone” on property when they arrived for an evening prayer.
“Whoever did this, we will pray for him, and we have forgiven him,” Muhammad Babar, a spokesman for the center, told the newspaper. “And if that person is meaning to send us a message to leave — America is our country and our adopted homeland … we’re not going anywhere.”
Community and religious leaders of different faiths denounced the anti-Muslim graffiti Thursday morning in front of the center at 4007 River Road. Mayor Greg Fischer called the act one of ignorance and extremism, one that hit “like a punch in the gut.”
“To our Islamic center, I want to apologize on behalf of the entire community for this unacceptable incident here,” Fischer said, adding the intolerance harms all of Louisville, not just Muslims.
A message left with the center was not immediately returned, nor was a message left with the Indian Hills Police Department, which is investigating the incident.
Corey Saylor, director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations’s department to monitor and combat Islamophobia, tracks incidents like this — vandalism, or demonstrations outside of mosques. Saylor said that he typically sees about one a month, and though the total number for this year already equals the total from 2014, it is trailing back off to its usual levels.
“Given the apparent bias motive for the vandalism, law enforcement authorities should investigate this incident as a possible hate crime and provide additional protection for worshipers at the mosque,” CAIR national communications director Ibrahim Hooper said in a statement. “This incident fits a disturbing pattern of recent hate incidents targeting American Muslims and their institutions.”
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