A White man broke into an Arizona mosque earlier this week and desecrated copies of the Quran, the Islamic Center of Tucson said Tuesday, reported ABC News.
The suspect, who was caught on surveillance camera, entered the mosque on Monday around 3:30 a.m. and ripped copies of the Quran before throwing them on the floor, according to a post on the center’s Facebook page.
“He ripped copies of the Qur’an and threw them around the prayer room before leaving the building,” the center wrote. “Thankfully no one was hurt. The Tucson Police Department are looking for him.”
Surveillance footage circulated by the center showed the suspect wearing a red University of Arizona T-shirt and a baseball cap.
The center described it as an “isolated incident.”
“Although we are disheartened by this incident, we understand that this is an isolated incident,” the center wrote. “The ICT has been a part of the Tucson community since the late 1980’s and since then, the Tucson community has been kind, welcoming, and supportive.”
The local police department’s Sgt. Kim Bay told Tucson News Now that police were searching for the man seen in surveillance footage.
“There is no indication this was a hate crime,” Bay said, adding that the department wanted to question the man before speculating about his motives.
Imraan Siddiqi, executive director at the Arizona chapter of The Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, called on “local, state and federal law enforcement authorities to investigate this incident as a possible hate crime and for religious and political leaders to speak out against the growing Islamophobia in our state and nation that results in such acts of bigotry.”
Hate crimes rose 7 percent in the U.S. in 2015, according to the FBI, a rise driven largely by a 67 percent increase in hate crimes targeting Muslims. The FBI hasn’t released hate crime statistics for 2016, reported the Huffington Post.
Also in 2015, mosques were targeted for vandalism, arson and other types of destruction 80 times, a nearly 400 percent rise from 2014, according to a report from CAIR.
In a seven-week span this year, three mosques in the U.S. have fallen victim to arson, according to authorities. And just this past weekend, a mosque in Michigan caught fire.
Meanwhile, the number of anti-Muslim hate groups tripled in 2016, according to a recent report from the Southern Poverty Law Center, a rise the SPLC attributed to the anti-Muslim rhetoric of President Donald Trump.