Religious flag burned, mosque vandalized with pro-Trump graffiti
LONG ISLAND, New York / CNN — Police on Long Island are looking for whoever is responsible for vandalizing a mosque, burning a sacred flag and spray painting pro-Trump graffiti on it’s marble base.
It happened around 2 a.m. Monday at the Islamic Center of Suffolk County on 3rd Street in Brentwood.
Two people cut through a fence to enter the facility, defaced the flag base, and set fire to the flag, Suffolk County police said.
“It looks like it was pre-meditated,” acting Suffolk County Police Commissioner Stuart Cameron said. “Someone had to cut through the fence.”
“They also had to bring whatever was used to set the flag on fire,” Cameron said. “So it was a very upsetting hate crime to us.”
Police are scanning for any surveillance video and now offering a reward for information in the case.
The mosque has been a fixture in Brentwood for the last 15 years, and police said there hasn’t been an instance of mosque vandalism in the county since 2018.
“This required thought,” mosque President Syed Naqvi said. “Nighttime, and they choose a place where they cannot be seen.”
The political undertones are also troubling to those in the community who just don’t understand why the mosque would be targeted.
“Hate, I guess,” Naqvi said. “People who don’t like other people. Ignorance, I’d say.”
The nature of the crime, particularly the burning of the flag, will clearly define it as a hate crime and increase the penalties, police said. And many fear the perpetrators could return.
“We have a lot of glass windows doors and that,” Naqvi said. “So if they come back, they could break anything they could damage, too.”
The Jafria Association of North America condemned the vandalism, saying the defacement of any place of worship is deeply offensive and hurtful and the burning of the Alam (flag) and the accompanying message on the Shah-E-Najaf Mosque clearly constitute a hate crime.
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