LOS ANGELES (Christian Examiner) – On the heels of the San Bernardino terror attack, two Los Angeles-area mosques were vandalized with spray paint and a fake hand grenade in what are being considered hate crimes.
Police responded to a call from Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Baitus-Salaam Mosque in Hawthorne, Calif., about 6:30 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 13, the Los Angeles Times reported.
A hand grenade lying in the driveway of the mosque was determined by a bomb squad to be fake. The word "Jesus" was spray-painted in white across the gate of the mosque and white crosses were painted on the windows.
Police also responded the same day to reports of vandalism from the Islamic Center of Hawthorne, where "Jesus is the Way" was painted on the building. The FBI was called on both incidents, which are being considered hate crimes.
The previous day, Hawthorne city leaders held an interfaith rally at the Islamic Center of Hawthorne and a Catholic church.
"Investigators will work to identify the person or group responsible, the motivation and whether religious bias was a factor," the FBI said, according to KTLA.
"All evidence will be reviewed by state and federal prosecutors to determine whether a violation under federal civil rights statutes occurred. The FBI is committed to ensure law-abiding citizens are protected and to deter those who would threaten them."
CLIMATE OF HATRED
Just two days earlier on Friday, a 23-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of arson and hate crimes after allegedly setting fire to the Islamic Society of the Coachella Valley mosque, the Times reported.
"It's horribly lamentable that we would paint any group as undesirables based on the actions of an extremely small number of radical folks that don't represent the religion in any way," said John Benoit, the Riverside County Supervisor, about the suggestion that the burned mosque was targeted in retaliation for San Bernardino.
"If in fact it was done with the mosque as a target ... it's reprehensible, and the people who perpetrated that act should be treated the way we would any other terrorist," Benoit said.
Since the San Bernardino attacks, the Hawthorne police department has kept in close contact with local Islamic centers, the police said.
"The Department will continue to closely support our faith-based partners and work to assure the safety of its members," Hawthorne police stated.