Mosque vandalized in West Philadelphia; suspect caught on surveillance video

The Philadelphia Council on American-Islamic Relations said this is the third mosque that has been vandalized in the last two months.

This story originally appeared on 6abc.

A possible hate crime is under investigation after a suspect was caught on camera vandalizing a mosque in West Philadelphia.

When members of Masjid Al-Jamia in West Philadelphia went to pray Friday morning, they were met with vandalism outside.

“I just couldn’t believe what happened,” said Ahmad Ibrahim who is a member of Masjid Al-Jamia. “It’s absolutely disgusting, whoever did this.”

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Director Calvin Shuja Moore showed surveillance video of a man spray painting words and images on the building just after 3 a.m.

He wrote the phrase “Give Peace a Chance” and drew the Star of David and a communist symbol.

“We were surprised of course, but we’ve seen similar incidents,” said Moore. “We’re used to this, and we know the community itself supports us.”

Moore called Philadelphia police and a member painted over the graffiti Friday afternoon.

The Philadelphia Council on American-Islamic Relations said this is the third mosque that has been vandalized in the last two months, and they’ve seen an uptick in reports alleging bias incidents and discrimination.

They call on detectives to investigate this as a hate crime.

Some worshippers fear as the war continues in the Middle East, tensions could escalate further here in the United States.

“People are getting killed,” said Ibrahim. “Mosques (and) synagogues are being vandalized in different places. So, law enforcement hopefully takes stronger action to protect everybody.”

“In these days and times, people are so divided and have gone to the extremes on one end or the other, but we want to be a middle community and stay in the middle and be fair,” said Moore.

They pray the suspect is caught, and these crimes don’t continue to happen.

“If someone feels certain ways and they want to talk to us, the mosque is open five times a day,” said Ibrahim. “Anybody is more than welcome to come and have a conversation, engage with us in a positive way.”

Moore said they’ll continue to monitor their security system and try to strengthen it.

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