SAN DIEGO– Police are investigating a hate incident at the Islamic Center of San Diego in Clairemont. They claim two people posted flyers on their property.
The Center’s Director of Public and Interfaith Relations, Imam Taha Hassane — their faith leader — said he feels as if they are being targeted because of the flyers. He also expressed that the flyers are “hurtful.”
“Can you explain how you interpret this?” FOX 5 asked Hassane.
“Obviously, this is an act done by two individuals,” Hassane said. “Trying to intimidate the community, trying to spread this hatred, and trying to tell the society we’re responsible for this community.”
The Islamic Center of San Diego is trying to figure out who posted more than 50 flyers on trees and fencing outside their Clairemont Center.
Hassane said surveillance footage caught two people hanging the flyers Wednesday night. The flyers have “KIDNAPPED” written on top, photos of people, and words claiming the people are from Israel and taken by Hamas.
The Imam said they also noticed three blue towels tied to their fence.
“They are trying to link the entire community — American Muslim community — with Hamas, with whatever is going on over there. They are trying to portray us with and associate us with Hamas,” Hassane said.
Imam Taha reported the incident to the police, who are investigating this as a hate incident. Police said their detectives gather evidence, and interview witnesses to determine whether a hate crime has occurred under the law.
“Somebody putting flyers up there, may need to be some additional component of vandalisms or permanent damage to qualify under the law,” said Lt. Adam Sharki, a public information officer with the San Diego Police Department.
“The next question is whether or not charges can be brought,” Sharki added.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations of San Diego (CAIR-SD) works with the Islamic Center as an advocate for the Muslim community.
In a statement, CAIR-SD Executive Director Tazheen Nizam said:
“We are extremely alarmed by these actions. These actions create a sense of fear and concern amongst mosque attendees and the neighboring community. Parents bringing their kids to the Islamic School attached to the mosque are fearful. Our Muslim brothers and sisters deserve to feel safe and welcome in their places of worship. Especially at a time of heightened sensitivity, an action like this sends a clear message of instilling hate and fear.”
CAIR-SD is calling on the San Deigo Police Department to continue investigating this incident as a possible hate crime. Standing in solidarity with the Islamic Center of San Diego (ICSD) and the Muslim Leadership Council of San Diego (MLCSD), we hope for the urgent apprehension of the suspects. We encourage all mosques and organizations in San Diego to be vigilant and immediately report any possible suspicions or incidents to local authorities.
Imam Taha said their Muslim community is used to harassment, hate incidents, and even assaults.
“Even though as a community we have nothing to do with any party or any group in Palestine, we support of the people of Palestine and the rights of the people over there as we support all the people of all the oppressed, all over the world, not only Palestine,” Hassane said.
“We are so proud, that we are a vibrant community contributing to the betterment of our nation like everyone else,” Hassane continued.
Police said they initially investigate these types of incidents as a hate incident. Then they determine whether a crime has been committed like vandalism, before declaring it a hate crime.
Similar flyers have been posted around San Diego County, including outside of a shopping center in Kearny Mesa, which San Diego Police said they will look into.
San Diego Police said they have increased patrols at houses of worship and schools.