Illinois mosque attacked as Muslims pray inside
CAIR today called for an FBI investigation of an attack last night on a Chicago-area mosque that occurred while more than 100 Muslims prayed inside.
Police investigators, witnesses and mosque officials told CAIR that worshipers heard two loud bangs just after the evening prayer at the Islamic Foundation in Villa Park, Ill., one of the largest mosques and Islamic schools in America. (SEE: http://www.islamicfoundation.org/)
Witnesses say they found a window of the prayer area damaged by two projectiles that they took to be bullets. Islamic Foundation Director Abdul Hameed Dogar called the attack "a deliberate attempt to kill worshipers" because those praying were clearly visible to the attackers through the large windows of the mosque.
Villa Park Police Detective John Szkolka told CAIR he does not know what kind of projectiles hit the mosque window and is following "some leads" in the case. Szkolka said the attack was "almost certainly" bias-related.
This was not the first such attack on the mosque. In 1999, vandals threw a chunk of concrete through a glass door and broke a window. Other incidents of vandalism occurred while the mosque was under construction. Following the 9/11 terror attacks, the mosque received a number of threats.
"We are thankful that no one was hurt in last night's attack. This incident is just the latest in a series of assaults on and threats against American Muslims in recent weeks. We believe the increase in Islamophobic hate crimes is directly related to the drumbeat of pro-war and anti-Muslim rhetoric in our society. Local law enforcement agencies should offer increased protection for Muslim communities and their institutions during this time of crisis," said Omar Haydar, executive director of CAIR's Chicago office (CAIR-Chicago).
Haydar noted that just this week, death threats were made against Muslim students at San Jose State University in California. The threats were just one of several anti-Muslim incidents across the country reported to CAIR within the past month. Physical assaults against Muslims have been reported in Northern California, Southern California, Georgia, New Jersey, and South Carolina. One incident in Yorba Linda, Calif., left a Muslim teenager badly beaten by a group that allegedly included white supremacists.
CAIR is America's largest Islamic civil liberties group. It is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and has 16 regional offices nationwide and in Canada. Since its founding in 1994, CAIR has defended the civil and religious rights of all Americans.
Take steps to increase security of your local mosque, Islamic center or school.
Areas of Vulnerability:
CAIR MOSQUE SECURITY CHECKLIST
CAIR is asking that mosques consider taking the following safety measures: