Muslim school vandalized with anti-Islamic graffiti in Rhode Island

AFP Photo / Mario Tam
Federal authorities in the United States being asked to investigate an incident in Rhode Island over the weekend in which a Muslim school was vandalized with anti-Islamic graffiti.

“Now this is a hate crime” was among the slogans that were spray-painted on the back and front entrances of the nonprofit Islamic School of Rhode Island in the town of West Warwick late Saturday.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, CAIR, is now calling on authorities to investigate the incident after what the group calls a “recent spike in anti-Muslim hate rhetoric and bias-motivated attacks on American Muslims and their institutions.”

"This apparently bias-motivated incident should be investigated as a hate crime, with the strongest possible charges brought against the perpetrators once they are apprehended," CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper said in a statement on Sunday.

On Facebook, the Islamic School of Rhode Island said the defacement “is not something that we take lightly,” and that evidence has been supplied to local law enforcement as authorities investigate.

The perpetrators went "beyond normal vandalism" and wrote "senseless, hateful comments,” West Warwick Police Captain Donald Archibald told NBC News.

“I find it very upsetting,” Rabbi Sarah Mack of Temple Beth-El in Providence, RI told the Providence Journal. “The Muslim community in Rhode Island is very open and peaceful.”

courtesy Islamic School of Rhode Island

Hooper, the communications director at CAIR, said the latest incident occurred in the wake of two other tragedies that are being considered possible anti-Islamic hate crimes: three young Muslims were killed earlier this month in North Carolina, and investigators are considering arson in a fire that broke out early Friday at the Quba Islamic Institute in Houston, Texas.

West Warwick is a town of roughly 30,000 people, according to US Census Bureau statistics from 2000, and located around 14 miles south of Providence, RI. The Islamic School of Rhode Island opened 11 years ago and is an independent Islamic institution for students of all cultures and backgrounds, according to its website.

Of Rhode Islanders with a known religious affiliation, less than one percent is Muslim, according to a 2008 Pew study.