Muslim Center Vandalized

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Tuesday, May 3, 2011 - 1:17pm

Police, FBI looking into slogans painted on Maine building.

Members of southern Maine's Muslim community are expressing outrage after their Portland community center was spray-painted with hurtful messages in response to the death of Osama bin Laden.

Some time after morning prayer at the Maine Muslim Community Center someone spray painted 'Osama Today, Islam Tomorrow' and 'Go Home' on the front and side of the building.

"It is hurtful. It is absolutely unacceptable, and I believe we are under threat," said Abdirahman Osman, a community elder. "We cannot accept these such things. Our community, they all are hurt a lot, and we don't accept such things happening to our center, here."

Osman says whoever attacked their community facility is uneducated about the Muslim people and the religion of Islam.

He says people who believe in Islam believe in God, not violence and that Osama bin Laden created a lot of problems and suffering for Muslim people.

The Portland Police Department is investigating the act of vandalism as a hate crime under Maine law.

"We don't have many hate crimes here and certainly, to deface a mosque is just totaly unacceptable," Portland Police Chief James Craig told reporters Monday afternoon. "This is certainly not reflective of the people who live here in Portland. It is a very serious incident and it certainly creates fear in the community, not just in the Muslim community, but in all of our communities."

Chief Craig said he planned on meeting with members of Portland's Muslim community to ensure them everything that could be done to keep them safe, and find the person responsible would be done.

Craig says the F.B.I. has contacted his department to get more information and offer assistance in their investigation.

Members of the city's Muslim community say they don't take the action lightly and are concerned that the person or persons responsible could take other more serious actions.

"It is not the writing of the words that is the problem," explained Ahmed Abdirahman. "The problem is if someone writes a word, someone else might take action on it."

The city's anti-graffiti crew moved quickly to paint over the messages, but many people associated with the Muslim center say it will take much longer for the wounds created by this crime to heal.
 

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