FBI investigates vandalism at South Carolina mosque

Greenville Islamic Center

Carved into concrete, the words outside the Islamic Center in Taylors might be hard to see. “Some of our students came in with their moms,” Omer Ahmed describes. “They found written on the floor ‘Death to Muslims.” The anti-religious message was written sometime in the early morning hours Saturday.

For members like Miriam Abbad, it’s hard to see. She’s worshipped for 10 years at the center. “When they say death to Muslims, that means me, my young children, my husband, my whole family. What did we do wrong to deserve such mean words to come out?”

Unfortunately, they’re not the only ones. Just last week, vandals hit the Prince of Peach Catholic School and Church right down the road. There, they left not just works, but shattered windows from bricks too.

At Ahmed’s center, the message was written just feet from the playground. “Especially since it’s going to be a school for the children, that’s even more thoughts of what’s going to happen next,” says Abbad.

It’s too early to know if the cases are connected, but deputies and the FBI are investigating every possibility. Since both cases involve anti-religious messages, they are considered hate crimes.

It’s the Islamic Center’s 3rd incident in several years. Many years ago, someone tried to burn the center down. Now, leaders are looking into extra security and warning members to be on guard.

Interestingly enough, they’re also inviting the culprits back, so they can learn more about the faith. “This is why they have this negative and very bad view of Islam,” says Ahmed. “If they know Islam, I believe they’re going to accept it.”

If you have any information on either case, call the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office at (864) 271-5210.

WSPA, 25 August 2009