Kentucky Muslims greeted with anti-Islamic graffiti at prayer service

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer denounced the incident as a 'punch in the gut' and 'an affront to everyone in our community.'

Brian Bohannon/The Courier-Journal/AP
Muhammad Babar, a member of the congregation and spokesman for the Louisville Islamic Center on River Road in Louisville, speaks to media Thursday, about graffiti found on the mosque when they arrived for a 7:30 prayer meeting Wednesday night. Vandals spray-painted multiple anti-Islamic messages on the outside of the Louisville Islamic Center. Babar said he filed a police report and has spoken to the FBI about the incident. In response, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer has asked the community to come to the center Friday and help paint over the graffiti.

When members of the Islamic Center in Louisville, Ky., arrived for prayer service Wednesday night, they encountered hateful anti-Islamic graffiti on the walls.

The spraypainted phrases included “this is for France” and “Nazis speak Arabic.” Center spokesman Muhammad Babar says he filed a police report, and the FBI is involved in the investigating the incident, which is being called a hate crime.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer has called for the support of the community, joining interfaith leaders to denounce the act of hate at a news conference Thursday morning. He calls it a “punch in the gut.”

"An act like this here last night is an affront to everyone in our community," Mayor Fischer told reporters at a press conference, according to the local news station WDRB. "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."

On Friday, the mayor will lead a community effort to clean up the mosque.

The incident took place some time between Wednesday afternoon and early evening. Authorities say the security camera wasn’t working and investigators have taken the hard drive to see if there is some clue.

"Today we are standing here together once again to denounce extremism, intolerance and hatreds of all kinds, in whatever shape or form it is," Dr. Babar said at the press conference.

Anti-Islam sentiments have flared recently, especially in conservative parts of the country. In June, a Northwestern University chaplain dressed in a headscarf worn by Muslim women said a flight attendant denied her an unopened can of Diet Coke because it could be used as a weapon after providing an unopened can of beer to another passenger. And in January, during the seventh biennial Texas Muslim Capitol Day, protesters confronted Muslim American activists shouting phrases such as “Mohammed is dead” and “Go back to Baghdad.”

Just this week a Muslim teen in Texas garnered hundreds of thousands of supporters, when news of his dubious arrest for bringing a homemade clock to school went viral online.

This report includes material from the Associated Press.

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