Police investigating attack on East Side mosque as hate crime



Web Posted: 05/05/2006 11:39 PM CDT
Joe Conger
KENS 5 Eyewitness News

http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/metro/stories/MYSA050506.mosquevandals.KENS.132bb8bc.html

A Friday morning attack on a San Antonio Muslim center
is being investigated as a hate crime.

The vandalism happened in the 1700 block of Hayes
Street on the East Side.

Worshippers say vandals who broke into the mosque took
some cash and appliances, but also took the sense of
peace in the sanctuary.

The mosque looked like a late-night party that was
never cleaned up. Paper towels, ribbons and other
pieces of trash were strewn about the building.

"They just papered the place," said Sadeeq Mateen, a
Muslim prayer leader, or Imam. "A lot of it is odd,
the aluminum foil wrapped around the base of this
pillar and these chairs set up in audience fashion, as
if something was going on."

In the mas-jid, or place of prostration and prayer, a
safe was overturned and money was taken. A donation
box was emptied, except for checks written to the
Muslim Mission Center that were scattered on the
floor.

Investigators had plenty of fingerprints to lift, as
the vandals touched almost everything.

"It's comical on one side, on another point it's
serious, based on the tags on the wall," Mateen said.

A pentagram and gang-style symbols scribbled on one of
the walls of the sanctuary have police listing this as
a hate crime, a crime not often seen in San Antonio.

2004 is the latest year available for hate crime
statistics.

Texas reported 309 hate crimes that year, including 44
percent that were motivated by racial bias, and 10
percent motivated by religious bias.

In San Antonio, 24 hate crimes were reported. Fifty
percent of those crimes were considered race-related,
and 13 percent were considered religion-related.

One of the most publicized cases in 2004 included a
rash of convenience store fires set by Thomas Carroll.
Authorities said the fires were motivated by a Muslim
bias, and Carroll was sentenced to 30 years in prison
under hate crime statutes.

However, despite the seriousness of this crime, Mateen
wishes for a dialogue with the people responsible, not
vengeance.

"I'm confused if it's a message," Mateen said. "If
it's a message, they need to be more clear. Maybe come
back again when we're open, actually, and give us a
clear message on what's going on. Maybe we can sit
down, come to an understanding."

San Antonio police say that right now, the city
averages about one hate crime each month.





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