A Louisville mosque was covered in graffiti by a group of vandals on Wednesday, September 16, and now the community has pulled together to paint over the hateful messages.
According to ABC News, the vandals spray painted anti-Muslim graffiti all over the outside of the Louisville Islamic Center in Kentucky. Center spokesman Muhammad Babar said members of the center found the messages on Wednesday evening when they arrived for a prayer service. Messages like “This is for France,” “Nazis speak Arabic,” and “Moslems leave the Jews alone,” were clearly visible.
“Whoever did this, we will pray for him, and we have forgiven him,” Babar told The Courier-Journal on Wednesday. “And if that person is meaning to send us a message to leave, America is our country and our adopted homeland…. We’re not going anywhere.”
On Thursday, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer held a press conference denouncing the vandalism, and saying that something like this would not be tolerated in their community.
— Barbara Abu-Odeh (@Mndreamerof2) September 18, 2015
“An act like this here last night is an affront to everyone in our community,” he said. “It is not just an act against one faith, the Muslim faith. It’s an act against Buddhists, Christians, Jews — all faiths. An act like this will not be tolerated in our community. Certainly from a moral standpoint, but also from a legal standpoint.”
“Today we are standing here together once again to denounce extremism, intolerance and hatreds of all kinds, in whatever shape or form it is,” Babar also said at the news conference.
On Friday, nearly 1,000 people, from all major faith groups and congregations arrived at the Louisville Mosque to paint over the graffiti.
“I think it’s very apparent that whatever the intended message the perpetrator had, it certainly backfired,” Ozair Shariff, a board of directors member, told the Huffington Post. “Everyone is working together and in unison and that’s the true spirit of the city and its residents.”
— Crimson StudentPress (@theCSPN) September 19, 2015
Shariff said the supplies for painting the building were donated by members and organizations of the community. Matt Goldberg, the development director of the Jewish Community of Louisville, arrived to help clean up, along with more than 100 volunteers from the Jewish community.
“No one imagined something like that would happen here in Louisville,” Goldberg said. “We pride ourselves on our tolerance and our diversity. It was a shock to the system.”
— WDRB News (@WDRBNews) September 19, 2015
Babar has filed a police report, and the FBI is investigating the incident as a hate crime. Anyone with information is asked to call the LMPD crime tipline at 574-LMPD.
[Photo via Twitter]