HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — The Henrico County Police Department is investigating vandalism that occurred in Glen Allen at the West End Islamic Center — in the middle of Ramadan.
Ramadan is a month of fasting, prayer, community and reflection for the Muslim faithful. The West End Islamic Center said, “it is with great sadness that in just six months, the West End Islamic Center has experienced two incidents of vandalism.”
“We feel compelled to speak out against these expressions of hatred,” WEIC said in a Facebook post. “An attack on any house of worship certainly feels like an assault on the community.”
According to police, officers were called to the mosque at around 4:45 p.m. Saturday afternoon. When they arrived, officers spoke to a representative who said they believe a group of people entered the building between 3:30 and 4:30 p.m. Saturday.
Police said the building had graffiti, broken windows, flipped chairs and other items had been broken during the vandalism.
8News spoke with Syed Perwez, a board member of the West End Islamic Center.
“There is a big gaping hole — we had glass on the carpet back here, all over the floor, ” Perwez said, describing the damage. “It’s pretty traumatizing, you would think a place of worship is a safe haven, so it was a shock to us, we were not expecting this.”
The building is new, according to police, and has yet to install security cameras on the property. Police said they have no viable suspects or leads at the moment.
“Rights of all people of faith is a founding principle of America. This attack is incredibly hurtful. It’s hard to imagine that someone would want to attack our place of worship,” the Islamic center continued in the Facebook post. “What we do know, is that love is stronger than hate, and the members of our Mosque will stand together. We trust that our neighbors and friends will continue to stand with us and support our community as we worship during this holy month of Ramadan.”
Perwez went on to say, “This the last thing on our mind — we’re coming here, trying to focus on our worship and prayers and it’s been hard on our young people. They want to know why do they hate us, you know, why is this happening to us?”
“We want to know what drives that hate. We’re normal human beings — we contribute –we live here, our children go to school here we’re part of the same community so if there’s fear or hate, let’s have a conversation.”