Police See Bias Motive for New Hampshire Mosque Vandalism

CAIR-logo(WASHINGTON, D.C., 9/17/13) -- The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, said today that law enforcement authorities in New Hampshire are investigating a bias motive for extensive vandalism of the construction site for the Islamic Society of Greater Manchester.

CAIR said the vandalism, which cost more than $30,000 to repair and included a number of smashed windows and attempted arson, occurred in July but was not determined to be bias-motivated until recently. The perpetrators were caught on video surveillance cameras.

The mosque site was targeted with a similar act of vandalism in April.Muslim community leaders and local police told CAIR that the juvenile perpetrators bragged of the vandalism online and left comments on anti-Muslim hate sites. Officials say New Hampshire does not have a hate crime statute but that a judge can hand down an enhanced sentence if the alleged vandals are convicted.

Video: Vandalism of Islamic Society of Greater Manchester
SEE ALSO: State's First Mosque Goes Up Bit By Bit (Union Leader)

"We thank Manchester police for following up on this case and ultimately uncovering the alleged bias motive," said CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper. "A bias motive is often not recognized in these cases unless there is obvious evidence such as hate graffiti."

Later this month, CAIR will issue its latest report on Islamophobia, called "Legislating Fear: Islamophobia and its Impact in the United States." The groundbreaking 158-page report includes a listing of the organizations involved in the U.S. Islamophobia network, separated into an "inner core" that focuses exclusively on promoting anti-Islam prejudice and an "outer core" that has other elements to its work.

To receive information about the release date for the report, subscribe to CAIR's email list.

The Washington-based civil rights group has called on local and national law enforcement authorities to investigate a possible bias motive for similar acts of vandalism or bias targeting mosques nationwide.

CAIR's Chicago chapter this week announced a lawsuit over an Illinois suburb's refusal to let a Muslim group open a mosque.

Video: CAIR-Chicago Sues City for Rejecting Mosque
On Friday, worshipers at the Islamic Center in Washington, D.C., were targeted by hate hecklers.

Video: Worshipers Heckled with Hate at Islamic Center of Washington, D.C.

CAIR is also monitoring an incident in Minnesota in which a mosque was destroyed by fire. No cause for the fire has yet been determined and there is currently no evidence of arson.

SEE: Downtown Winona Blaze Tamed; Started in Islamic Center

In August, CAIR called on state law enforcement authorities and the FBI to investigate vandalism of a mosque sign in Burlington, Mass., with "USA" graffiti.

Video: CAIR Asks FBI to Probe Mass. Mosque Vandalism

In May, CAIR began distributing new safety and security guidelines to mosques and other houses of worship nationwide. The new CAIR publication, "Best Practices for Mosque and Community Safety," was produced in response to recent bias attacks, including a series of incidents last year targeting American Muslim institutions.

Community leaders may request a free copy of CAIR's "Best Practices for Mosque and Community Safety," by going to: http://www.cair.com/mosque-safety-guide.html

CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

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CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, [email protected]; CAIR Communications Manager Amina Rubin, 202-341-4171, [email protected]