Was an Islamic mosque in Bakersfield the target of a hate crime? That was the question local Islamic leaders hope Sheriff’s investigators and the FBI can answer.
Sheriff’s deputies said 10-15 young men attacked Muslims attending prayer services early Saturday.
Mosque leaders said members were subjected to racial slurs, slashed tires, and rock-throwing.
But despite the violence, mosque leaders called for peace after a crime, they said, was not fueled by hate.
It was 4 a.m. when some neighborhood drunk teens showed up at an overnight Ramadan service.
The trouble began when the young men were asked not to disturb the prayers, but the Imam emphasized it may all have been a misunderstanding.
Witnesses said two intoxicated men ate some of the food laid out for the service and then began to argue with people there.
They returned shortly with about a dozen men, yelling slurs, busting windows, slashing car tires, and pelting rocks.
Affad Shaikh of the Council on American Islamic Relations welcomes the FBI to investigate the incident, but is also not ready to call it a hate crime.
“With that comes certain implications,” Shaikh said. “It comes to federal prosecution and so forth. It’s a heavy burden to carry when it comes to hate crimes and prosecution.” (MORE)