Bay Area/ San Francisco/ Crime & Emergencies
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Published on April 12, 2024
Suspect Arrested for Vandalizing San Francisco Mosque During Ramadan, Community Calls for Action Against HateSource: Google Street View

A suspect has been arrested for the series of vandalisms at a San Francisco mosque, the Masjid al-Tawheed, during the holy month of Ramadan. The series of attacks left the Muslim community on edge and underscored the tensions faced by minority religious groups, as told by several sources including the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-SFBA), which welcomed the arrest.

The suspect, identified as 35-year-old Robert Gray, stands accused of damaging the mosque's property; in one incident he broke windows and in another defaced the mosque’s entrance surveillance footage caught Gray smashing the mosque's windows with a skateboard and later getting into an altercation within the mosque's precincts, as reported by SF Standard. Mosque leadership played a crucial role in the arrest, engaging Gray in conversation until the San Francisco Police Department could arrive and take him into custody, said the CAIR-SFBA through its Executive Director Zahra Billoo.

In a statement obtained by CAIR, Billoo expressed relief over the arrest, "We are relieved that an arrest has been made in these distressing incidents," acknowledging the need for the community to see actions being taken to protect their places of worship. Meanwhile Imam Mohammed Alnuzaili revealed how disruptive the threats and vandalism have been, especially during what should be a celebratory time, as told to the SF Standard.

The community faced not just broken windows but also deeply disrespectful acts such as graffiti and pornographic images taped to the mosque entrance, incidents which speak, distressingly, to a calculated intent to desecrate and instigate since they put graffiti right at the door, which they had to have removed someone wrote, 'You will burn in hell' near our front entrance," Alnuzaili told the SF Standard. Such attacks have not only threatened the sense of security within the Muslim community but have also prompted calls for increased support and action from city officials, with San Francisco Immigrants Rights Commissioner Aseel Fara stressing the urgency for protection before something more tragic occurs.

As Gray awaits charges, the arrest is considered a signal against hate-driven behavior and underscores the broader challenges of tackling Islamophobia. The incidents have realization in a pattern of increasing intolerance and bias complaints that CAIR offices report nationwide, including a recent vandalism at a Muslim Chaplaincy house at Rutgers University, as mentioned in a statement by CAIR's New Jersey chapter and earlier published by Hoodline San Francisco.