Vandals deface exterior of Louisville Islamic Center

Vandals deface exterior of Louisville Islamic Center

Amanda Tu

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Photo courtesy Zoha Mian

Vandals painted anti-Islamic messages in red spray paint on the outside of the Louisville Islamic Center Wednesday afternoon.

Mosque members first noticed the graffiti–which included messages such as “Leave France” and “Moslems–Leave the Jews Alone” as well as several Stars of David–when they arrived for prayer on Wednesday evening. The Indian Hills police department is currently investigating the crime.

Asim Hameed (10, MST), a member of the Louisville Islamic Center, said that he was particularly disturbed by the fact that the vandals targeted an ostensibly safe place for those of Islamic faith.

“Thankfully, the attack wasn’t on any people, but the property was a religious place that many Muslims go to,” he said. “A mosque is supposed to be a safe spot, like those grocery stores that have safe places for children to go to. I go there once or twice a week, so that really puts me on my nerves because it shows, first, that someone is mad enough to make that act of aggression, and second, that he actually has the means to carry out the anger he does have.”

Hameed also said that anti-Muslim prejudice is primarily the result of pervasive ignorance.

“If everyone was taught what Islam actually was, then they wouldn’t really hold anything against it, because there’s not really anything to hate,” he said. “It’s not an aggressive religion or anything, so the prejudice is just because of misteachings.”

Muhammad Babar, a spokesperson for the center, released a public statement to the Muslim community Thursday morning, writing that, “we knew that hatred will hit us one day but there was always a brink of hope that our community outreach efforts may deflect it away from us. But fact of the matter is that we are hit hard right here in our compassionate city of Louisville at a place that is center of tolerance and compassion.”

According to Babar, the mosque will hold a community clean-up to paint over the graffiti on Friday at 3 p.m. He encouraged children and youth to attend, “as they need to witness this act of compassion to understand that every adversity brings out something good.”

Manual Y-Club members plan to both participate in the clean-up and to create a collage of supportive messages for the local Muslim community.

“There’s a big group chat of all the Y-Club officers around the city and in Oldham and Hardin County,” Manual Y-Club leader Clare Doyle (12, HSU) said. “One of the girls in that group chat goes to the mosque–her name is Zoha. We’re getting people from our school to all write notes of support, solidarity and inspiration. Once all the notes are collected, we’re going to collage them and present that to the Islamic Center.”

Doyle added that community members have a responsibility to support and assist those affected by acts of hate.

“I think that when something like this happens, it’s really important that the people who aren’t directly affected don’t just act like innocent bystanders,” she said. “We can’t be passive and let the Islamic community of Louisville try to face this alone. It’s important that we step up and do our part in ending hate and prejudice so that the members of Islam in our community see that they’re not alone in this.”