Vandals shatter front door of Milpitas mosque

05/18/06 10:40 PDT

Vandals shattered a $350 front door of an Islamic
mosque in Milpitas this week but police say so far
they have no evidence indicating it was a hate crime.

Visitors who came to attend an early morning prayer
discovered the smashed glass front door at Masjid Dar
Al-Salaam, located at 90 Dempsey Road, around 5 a.m.

Milpitas police Detective Peter Prolo said today
police found no graffiti, notes or other evidence to
suggest the mosque was targeted in a hate crime.

Yet, the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the Council
on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is concerned
about Bay Area Muslims being singled out in hate
crime-related attacks because of such incidents being
reported recently across the nation.

"CAIR attributes these incidents to existing levels of
anti-Muslim bias in American society and war-related
sentiment,'' the organization wrote in a statement.

The perpetrator "did not leave any evidence of
intrusion into the mosque but we don't know that it
wasn't a hate crime for sure," Mohammad Nada, a board
member of the mosque, stated.

Prolo said police are investigating a string of recent
vandalism incidents at a local Catholic Church. Since
Christmas, vandals have thrown rocks through that
church's windows three times.

Because no rocks were found at the mosque, Prolo said
investigators do not believe the crimes are related.

No suspects have been identified in any of the

"We have taken additional (security) measures," Prolo
said. "We've increased surveillance and heavy patrol
in the area around the mosque."

Anyone with information about this case is urged to
contact the Milpitas Police Department at (408)

Muslim Groups Protest Account Closure
Non-profits call for explanations for refusal of
By Scott J. Krischke
May 17, 2006

Decrying the closing of its bank accounts in November
of last year with no official explanation, the
Herndon-based non-profit organization Foundation for
Appropriate and Immediate Temporary Help (FAITH) has
joined with other area Muslim non-profits to call for
a national boycott Wachovia Corp. financial services
unless the bank provides an explanation for closing
the accounts.

"We want to prove to [Wachovia] that what they did
here is outright, blatantly wrong," said Mukit
Hossain, a member of the board of directors of FAITH.
"American citizens should not be treated like this 
it's time for us to make a stand."

After achieving the support of Falls Church-based
Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation and the
Council on American-Islamic Relations in Washington,
D.C., members of FAITH called a press conference in
Washington on Monday. FAITH and the other non-profits
demanded an explanation of the closing of the three
FAITH accounts from the bank within two weeks or they
would urge Muslims nationwide to close their Wachovia
accounts, Hossain said.

While acknowledging that FAITH has called for possible
boycotts of their services, Wachovia spokesperson
Carrie Ruddy refused to comment on specific cases due
to Wachovia's privacy and ethical regulations.

"Wachovia is committed to operating its business with
full and ethical standards and under the full
compliance of applicable laws and regulations," Ruddy
said in a phone interview. "We never make any account
decisions based on race, religion, national origin or
other discriminatory factors."

FAITH IS a Herndon-based non-profit organization with
a mission "to provide humanitarian aid to needy
individuals and families living Northern Virginia,"
according to its Web site.

Established in 1999, the organization uses money
donated from predominantly Muslim individuals and
businesses to provide counseling services and
assistance for women and children who have been the
victims of domestic violence, as well as food
distribution for the needy, regardless of religious or
ethnic background.

FAITH provided "a little less" than $200,000 in
services and contributions as listed in the
organization's 2004 annual financial statement, the
most recent report released by the group, said FAITH
treasurer and board member Margaret Farchtchi.

Wachovia sent FAITH a letter in November of 2005
telling them that the bank would be closing the
organization's account, but without giving a specific
reason, according to Farchtchi.

"It was strictly out of the blue, we had absolutely no
notice," Farchtchi said. "We have always had a healthy
relationship with Wachovia  we've never had any types
of balance or accounting problems, the things you
would expect might lead to this."

"I called them and asked to speak to their corporate
lawyers and I asked them why," Hossain said. "They
told me that they did not need to share with me the
information why the account was closed."

Wachovia responded to a letter that FAITH drafted
demanding an explanation for the closing of the
account by saying that the company had "merely
exercised its right to stop services to a client,"
Hossain said.

"When this first happened we had a board meeting at
FAITH and we really debated whether or not to make any
issue out of this at all because we didn't want our
donors thinking that something was wrong," Farchtchi
said. "But the more we talked about it, the more we
realized something wasn't wrong  we couldn't see any
real reason why they would have done this."

"It really appears that this is discriminatory, and
it's bad not for just us, but for other interfaith
organizations throughout the country," Farchtchi said.
"Many people like the ACLU [American Civil Liberties
Union] are interested in the outcome."

ALTHOUGH NOT POSITIVE, Hussein said that the account
may have been closed because of a $150,000 donation
made in 2005 by the Sterling Charitable Gift Fund
Trust managed by Herndon resident M. Yaqub Mirza.
Mirza was targeted in a 2002 raid by federal agents
but never charged of any crimes, Hossain said.

While the gift of $150,000 is considered large to a
company that does about $200,000 of charity
distribution every year, Hossain said that FAITH has
received large donations before and they were never a
problem with the bank.

Farchtchi said that the Sterling Charitable Gift Fund
Trust donation as the reason for the closing is "just
a wild guess."

"We have no clue what it could be," Farchtchi said.
"The bank has given us absolutely no indication that
this or anything else is the case."

"If it was something like that they were concerned
about, why didn't they just come to us?" she said.

"I don't see why Wachovia would close down this
account and not give us an explanation," Hossain said.
"It used to be that you're innocent until proven
guilty, and now with Muslims you're guilty until
proven innocent, and if you're in Herndon you're
guilty no matter what."


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