2 Islamic sites targeted with anti-Muslim posters



Rebekah Sanders
The Arizona Republic
Jun. 14, 2006 12:00 AM

http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/0614muslim0614.html

Handmade posters carrying anti-Islamic messages were
found less than a day apart at two Valley Islamic
locations, prompting the Arizona chapter of the
Council on American-Islamic Relations to seek a
hate-crimes investigation.

During afternoon prayers Sunday, around 5 p.m.,
members of the Islamic Community Center of Tempe found
a white poster board at the mosque with messages
scrawled in black marker attacking the Prophet
Mohammed and Muslims. The 3- by 2-foot sign was taped
to a dumpster facing the mosque but was not on its
property. No damage was found, Sgt. Dan Masters, a
Tempe police spokesman, said in an e-mail.

Members reported the incident to the council and to
Tempe police, who took fingerprints and video
surveillance tapes from the mosque. 

Nure Elatari, communications director for the council,
said she was told the videos include images of
individuals and a vehicle.

Employees at the council found a similar white poster
taped to their office door, 202 E. McDowell Road, at 9
a.m. Monday, Elatari said. The words, transliterated
from Arabic into English spelling, distorted a common
Islamic prayer about Mohammed into an insult, she
said.

Phoenix police have assigned the case to the bias
crimes unit and have classified it as a "threat"
report, said Detective Tony Morales, Phoenix police
spokesman.

"It's really unfortunate. It's sad to see such
ignorance lingering in the community," Elatari said.
"It only encourages us more to promote tolerance and
education."

Although police say the two incidents have not been
connected, Elatari says this is the first time both
the mosque and the council office have been targeted
within such a short period of time.

The Tempe mosque has been spray-painted with graffiti
several times, including in 2003 with a swastika, a
thunderbolt-shaped "SS," and other Nazi symbols.
Elatari said both the council and the mosque have
received mail and phone threats on separate occasions.

In April, the council reported, a middle-aged couple
at Scottsdale's Desert Ridge Marketplace, who said
they had seen the Sept. 11-themed movie United 93,
insulted three Muslim women shopping there. Two of the
three women are American-born citizens, according to
the group.

"Every time, it's like, 'Do we really have to go
through this again? When are we finally gonna grow
up?' " Elatari said.

"I'm not fearful because their statements are very
shallow. I just feel sorry for them and want to be
able to identify that it's just a random few."

After finding the poster at the office, the council
issued a public call to the FBI to investigate the
incidents as related hate crimes.

But the FBI is not involved, FBI information officer
Susan Herskovits said.

Masters said the incident was not a criminal act.
However, "the behavior is a concern, and we take
incidents such as this seriously."

Police will have extra patrols in the area, he said.





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