Non-muslims offer aid after Islamic mosque in Ohio vandalized

Posted: Friday, January 04, 2002

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Non-Muslims have offered space, money and other support for worshippers after vandals drilled holes in the floors of the city's oldest mosque, ripped up copies of the Quran and pulled water pipes from walls.

Mohammed Shareef, president of the Islamic Foundation of Central Ohio, said the three-story the Islamic Center of Columbus will not be usable for some time. The vandalism caused more than $100,000 in damage.

The Congregation Tifereth Israel and the Rotary Club of Columbus have offered to help while the center is closed, and the Rev. Timothy Ahrens of the First Congregational Church has offered the use of classrooms and its parish hall, which can hold about 300 people.

Muslim community leaders want authorities to pursue the vandalism as a hate crime because stiffer penalties would apply. Leaders believe it was a hate crime, noting that Qurans and other religious artifacts were desecrated, but no money was taken from collection boxes.

Police say they can't say whether it's a hate crime until they make an arrest.

''The only thing that makes this suspect is Sept. 11 because church vandalisms aren't anything new,'' he said Wednesday.

Mosques around Ohio have been targeted since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

At least one window was damaged by gunfire at The Islamic Center of Toledo, while a mosque in Parma, near Cleveland, has reported damage to windows.

On Dec. 12, a suburban Cleveland man pleaded guilty to felony charges of burglary, ethnic intimidation and vandalism for ramming his car into the Islamic Center of Cleveland six days after the terrorist attacks. Eric M. Richley, 29, of Middleburg Heights, will be sentenced Jan. 9.

The Columbus mosque vandalism has increased apprehension among area Muslims, who had hoped that such incidents were abating, said Asma Mobin-Uddin, vice president of the Ohio chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

''It's scary. ... This was obviously planned,'' she said.

HEAD:Non-Muslims offer aid after Islamic mosque in Ohio vandalized

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Non-Muslims have offered space, money and other support for worshippers after vandals drilled holes in the floors of the city's oldest mosque, ripped up copies of the Quran and pulled water pipes from walls.

Mohammed Shareef, president of the Islamic Foundation of Central Ohio, said the three-story the Islamic Center of Columbus will not be usable for some time. The vandalism caused more than $100,000 in damage.

The Congregation Tifereth Israel and the Rotary Club of Columbus have offered to help while the center is closed, and the Rev. Timothy Ahrens of the First Congregational Church has offered the use of classrooms and its parish hall, which can hold about 300 people.

Muslim community leaders want authorities to pursue the vandalism as a hate crime because stiffer penalties would apply. Leaders believe it was a hate crime, noting that Qurans and other religious artifacts were desecrated, but no money was taken from collection boxes.

Police say they can't say whether it's a hate crime until they make an arrest.

''The only thing that makes this suspect is Sept. 11 because church vandalisms aren't anything new,'' he said Wednesday.

Mosques around Ohio have been targeted since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

At least one window was damaged by gunfire at The Islamic Center of Toledo, while a mosque in Parma, near Cleveland, has reported damage to windows.

On Dec. 12, a suburban Cleveland man pleaded guilty to felony charges of burglary, ethnic intimidation and vandalism for ramming his car into the Islamic Center of Cleveland six days after the terrorist attacks. Eric M. Richley, 29, of Middleburg Heights, will be sentenced Jan. 9.

The Columbus mosque vandalism has increased apprehension among area Muslims, who had hoped that such incidents were abating, said Asma Mobin-Uddin, vice president of the Ohio chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

''It's scary. ... This was obviously planned,'' she said.



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