Islamic Relations group calls for probe into motive behind Azusa mosque vandalism

A Los Angeles Islamic relations group is urging authorities to investigate whether bias was the motive behind a recent vandalism at the Masjid Al-Fatiha mosque in Azusa.

The Greater Los Angeles Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations requested the probe as they were set to release today its annual report on Muslim civil rights issues in California.

“We urge law enforcement authorities to utilize all their resources to immediately and fully investigate the vandalism at Masjid Al-Fatiha as a possible hate crime, especially because of the nature of the vandalism,” said Affad Shaikh, civil rights manager for CAIR-LA.

Rahmat P. Phyakul, board chairman and one of the founders of Al-Fatiha Masjid, reported to CAIR-LA that vandals shattered windows and glass doors of the mosque’s office and prayer hall on Monday, Dec. 7.

A plaque with Quranic verses was tossed on the floor, the sound system was destroyed and donation boxes were broken into.

The mosque has suffered prior incidents of vandalism. In the past, a passerby shouted anti-Muslim slurs at worshipers. The slurs reportedly included: "You, terrorist, Osama Bin Laden, F... your God, F.... you Allah.”

Prayer rugs in the mosque were also covered with urine.

The break-in occurred Monday, Dec. 7 between 2:30 p.m and 7 p.m. at the mosque in the 200 block of North Citrus Avenue, said Sgt. Sam Fleming of the Azusa Police Department.

The incident was reported by congregants arriving for evening prayer. Mosque officials contacted the Azusa Police Department to report the break-in.

Earlier this month, vandals broke into the back door of a Sacramento mosque and damaged religious wall hangings and a book shelf that held Qurans, as well as other property in the facility, according to a police report. The vandals also stole items from the mosque.

Additionally, an Oregon mosque last month was targeted with hate graffiti. A police report indicated that vandals wrote “Allah is a pig” on the Abu-Bakr As-Siddiq Islamic center’s mailbox on or before November 15th. Local police said they view the incident as a bias crime.

Also last month, CAIR called for an investigation of a possible bias motive for repeated vandalism at a North Carolina mosque.