MD: Vandalism Raises Questions of Prejudice


MD: VANDALISM RAISES QUESTIONS OF PREJUDICE

Police are investigating a vandalism -- the third incident in less than 14 months -- at the Islamic Society of Frederick.

Police aren't sure whether the vandalism could be considered a hate crime until a suspect is identified and the motive is revealed. Yahya Hendi, imam of the Islamic Society, is also reluctant to say if he believes the incident is a hate crime until someone is caught.

Hendi said no one was inside the building on Key Parkway at about 5:30 p.m. Feb. 21, when someone threw rocks and shattered two of the building's roughly 4-foot high clear glass windows. Shards of glass littered the inside of the prayer hall, Hendi said.

The sight was not unusual for worshipers at the Islamic Society. In early 2006, someone broke the windows of the children's room by throwing stones at them. Last summer some windows of the multi-purpose lecture hall were damaged in the same way.

In another incident, during fall 2005, some children were attacked on the Islamic Society's grounds, Hendi said.

The windows broken in the most recent incident have since been repaired, a cost Hendi estimated at between $3,000 and $4,000.

No one was harmed in the three vandalisms, but Hendi said his congregation has many questions.

"We are wondering as to who could be behind this," he said. "... Is this a hate crime?"

The Islamic Society did not report the first incident to the police, brushing it off as a prank. The second time it happened, Islamic Society leaders went to the police, he said.

"Since it's the third time, we're becoming very cautious and very much worried that this might escalate," said Hendi, who described the neighborhood as integrated. "So to have this happen to a center like ours that has become known as a (peaceful) building is quite painful."

 


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