PORTLAND, Ore. — A local mosque is the latest target of hate speech. Vandals spray-painted the word “Isis” on the building over the weekend. Police are investigating and neighbors worry Islamophobia is resurfacing this Sept. 11.
Alisha Hilton shares a neighborhood with the Abu-Bakar Islamic Center. For seven years she said there has never been a problem.
“They’re really nice to us, like they’ll say ‘hi’ to us. They’re not mean or rude,” said Hilton.
Over the weekend their mosque became a target.
“I came outside and I got my husband. Just big red letters. It said, ‘Isis,’” she said.
Someone labeled a sacred space a terrorist organization.
“It’s awful. I don’t go on Facebook anymore because that’s all I see, and then I go outside and I see ‘Isis’ real big on the building. It’s awful,” said Hilton.
Harris Zafar, a spokesperson for the Ahmadiyya Muslim community says emotions tend to be heightened around Sept. 11. Many Muslims were worried something like this would happen.
“I’m actually very surprised because this doesn’t happen in Portland,” said Zafar. “It hurts us as Muslims that this is what our members or our children when they enter in that mosque.”
The graffiti is now painted over, but the uneasy feeling of racism still lingers. Zafar’s message: don’t fear, but stand by those who are different.
“Come together as one Portland population and support each other. I think that’s ultimately the way we can show these people that we’re not going to be intimidated,” he said.
Mohammed Farah, the secretary for Abu-Bakar Islamic Center, said they are looking into better security systems and hopes the person(s) who did it is held accountable.
Police took the report Saturday, Sept. 9 and believe the graffiti was created sometime between Friday and Saturday.