A mosque under construction near Washington, D.C., was extensively damaged by vandals last weekend, but a regional imam said today there’s no indication yet that the vandalism was a hate crime.
“It seems at this point that the vandalism was done by intoxicated individuals,” regional imam Yahya Luqman said of the damage done last weekend at the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Mosque in Chantilly, about 10 miles west of Fairfax, Va.
While some may be quick to assume the vandalism was a hate crime targeting Muslims, the imam said he and the community he represents aren’t jumping to that conclusion. “That’s something the Fairfax County Police are investigating,” Luqman told Hatewatch. “Until they catch the suspects, we won’t know what the motive may have been.”
Luqman said neighbors and people of other faiths have expressed condolences for the vandalism.
Regardless of the motive in the Chantilly attack, the United States has seen mosques and Muslims targeted by hate criminals with some regularity in recent years. The most dramatic recent evidence of anti-Muslim bias came with the release of the FBI’s national hate crime statistics for 2010, which showed a single-year jump of 50% in hate crimes targeting Muslims. Also, last Oct. 31, a mosque in Wichita, Kan., which earlier had been targeted with anti-Muslim hate mail, was heavily damaged in a suspected arson. That incident remains unsolved.
Following last weekend’s vandalism in Virginia, Usman Ghumman, general secretary for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Mosque, told The Washington Post that all the mosque’s first-level windows and door glass were shattered by thrown rocks, causing about $60,000 in damages.
“We’re devastated at the incident but we believe it’s something we will overcome,” Ghumman told the Post. “The community has been very supportive and sympathetic as far as what occurred. The majority of the people we meet and greet at the site are very anxious to see the completion of the mosque. ... They see it as a beautiful landmark on the hill.”
Luqman said he’s hopeful the vandalism — which was covered by insurance and already is being repaired — won’t significantly delay the opening of the mosque, scheduled in about a month. The religious leader said the new mosque is intended to serve two chapters of Islamic worshippers near Fairfax.
“This incident,” he said, “underscores of community’s motto, which is, ‘Love for all, hatred for none.””