LA: POLICE INVESTIGATE VANDALISM OF MOSQUE
A faded green marijuana leaf remained on the outside of a Shreveport mosque late afternoon Tuesday, despite efforts to wash off the graffiti. The imam of the Islamic Association of Arabi Inc. arrived for prayers about 5:30 a.m. Tuesday and found the drug symbol spray painted on one side and profanity on the other, according to police reports. Only red streaks were left from the profanity.
It happened after members left night prayers, which ended about 10:30 p.m. Monday, at the building in the 3700 block of Youree Drive.
At least one member of the community feels it was a hate crime.
"It shows ignorance and intolerance," said Abderazak Benyahia, who regularly prays at the mosque. "People are very passionate when it comes to Islam."
Authorities are investigating.
"We will continue investigating to see if it will be considered a hate crime or some type of terrorist crime," police spokeswoman Kacee Hargrave said.
"It seems like vandalism. But with it being an Islamic temple, we can't rule out anything."
The mosque has been at the location since 1991. In the months after Sept. 11, 2001, it was vandalized once and its American flag was stolen another time.
Benyahia saw this latest incident as a way to further educate people about Islam. "Islam is very misunderstood. Islam teaches love, respect. In Islam, violence is not acceptable."