Caught on camera: Faith leaders join in show of unity after vandalism at East Mount Airy mosque
EAST MOUNT AIRY - Philadelphia police are investigating vandalism of an Islamic community center and mosque. Police and mosque leaders would like to find the person responsible.
It happened Friday night into Saturday at Masjidullah and it’s caught on their cameras.
They do feel this was intentional and deliberate.
The cameras show a man getting off the bus, heading directly to their building and taking out supplies.
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Fortunately, they say the outpouring of support from the community and other religious organizations shows whatever the person was trying to accomplish didn’t work.
Surveillance video at Masjidullah shows a man exiting the bus at Washington Lane and Limekiln Pike Friday night, walk up to their front entrance, then turn away and immediately head to the back of the building.
It was at the back of the building leaders say the man, who they do not recognize, spray-painted and physically used a can of paint to vandalize doors and a brand-new refrigerator for their food pantry.
Philadelphia Police Northwest Detectives are investigating.
"We were totally shocked about what we saw," Resident Imam Idris Abdul-Zahir said. "Taking the bus here, just to come across the street and write all over our property. We don’t know who he is, but he clearly knows who we are and had some bad intentions for us."
Resident Imam Abdul-Zahir says it happened around midnight early Saturday morning, at a time when their youth group was wrapping up. Fortunately, they went home earlier that night.
The vandalism included a cross, a Star of David and Jesus written out.
Masjidullah responded with a joint statement with The Perfecting Church and Congregation Rodeph Shalom to show three distinct faith communities stand together against the hate.
"We don’t love God better by hating our brother, but we love God better by loving our brother," Lead Pastor at The Perfecting Church, Pastor Kevin Brown, said.
"We’ll come stronger out of this and, at the same time, it’s a warning sign that fanaticism and hatred is real," Executive Director of CAIR Philadelphia, Ahmet Tekelioglu, said. "It’s sad for our communities to not be able to worship in peace."
Some of the vandalism remnants were still clear even after clean-up Sunday, but leaders say they are move motivated than ever.
"We’re not quitting on Philadelphia. This only makes me want to come harder and do more, because clearly someone tried, wants to deter us and we’re not going to be deterred at all," Abdul-Zahir added.
Leaders have reached out to volunteer to help paint and continue clean-up.
They are asking for the person to do the right thing and turn themselves in. Anyone who may recognize the man is urged to contact Northwest Detectives at 215-686-3140.