Second hate crime hits Davis Islamic Center

NATHAN CHAN / AGGIE FILE

Torn pieces of Quran thrown at local masjid during Ramadan prayer

On the evening of June 23, torn pages of the Quran were thrown at the Davis Islamic Center during a Ramadan prayer. This most recent act of vandalism marks the second hate crime to occur at the masjid, or mosque, in the past six months.

According to The Davis Enterprise, the Davis Police Department (DPD) suspects that the torn pages were thrown at the masjid from a moving vehicle around 11 p.m.. The pieces of paper were identified as computer-printed texts from the Quran that were subsequently shredded and thrown at the masjid. Bikes parked at the Islamic Center were later slashed by an unknown vandal the following Saturday afternoon.

Davis Police Sgt. Dan Powell stated in The Davis Enterprise that the vandalism incident will be treated as a hate crime. The DPD is using surveillance video to identify potential perpetrators.

Afreen Latheef, a third-year civil engineering student and a member of the UC Davis Muslim Student Association, denounced this most recent act of vandalism and expressed her apprehension for the security of the local Muslim community.

“The Muslim community is concerned and worried, given that there is an increase in the amount of crimes targeted towards Muslims,” Latheef said. “Unfortunately, the reality still sets that the attacks are increasing. The only way to make sure that these attacks are not a trend is by educating those unsure about Islam and its values and eradicating ignorance in the process.”

Education and tolerance are becoming increasingly necessary, as hostility toward Muslims continues to rise both nationally and locally. This most recent vandalism incident comes just one week after the sentencing of Lauren Kirk-Coehlo, who was given five years of probation for committing a hate crime at the Davis Islamic Center earlier this year. Kirk-Coehlo was tried for smashing windows, damaging bikes and wrapping bacon around the door handle of the masjid.

The occurrence of these hate crimes sparks concern not only within the local Muslim community, but also among friends and allies of the Davis Islamic Center.

Josh Dalavai, the ASUCD President, shared his reaction to the most recent incident and conveyed his fear for members of the Muslim community.

“I was absolutely disgusted,” Dalavai said. “Not only was the center robbed of justice in the beyond-light sentencing of the woman who smashed their windows and left bacon on the [door], they now got hit with another hate crime. I fear for their physical safety.”

While Dalavai asserted that the vandalism attests to the flaws of the community, he also reiterated that various groups and organizations in Davis have been exceptionally supportive of the local Muslim community during this time of political and religious conflict.

“I’d like to emphasize how wonderful the other faith communities of Davis –– particularly the Christian groups –– have been in support of Muslims,” Dalavai said. “It is great to see such collaboration and empathy.”

Latheef, like Dalavai, also communicated her gratitude toward other community members who have shown encouragement and kindness towards the local Muslim community.

“The response from the community […] has been wonderful,” Latheef said. “For every attack, there has immediately been an overwhelming response of good, saying that we Muslims are valued, allowing me to be optimistic for the future.”

 

Written by: Eliana Sisneros — city@theaggie.org