New York, Feb 25: Several inter-faith leaders in the US have decided to seek hate crime probe into the incident of vandalism at a Hindu temple in Washington state, saying law enforcement authorities should send out a strong message that those responsible will be held accountable.
The Washington state chapter of Council on AmericanIslamic Relations (CAIR), a Muslim civil liberties advocacy organisation, said faith leaders will join it to seek federal hate crime investigation of the apparently bias-motivated vandalism targeting the Hindu Temple and Cultural Center (HTCC) and Skyview Junior High in Bothell, Washington.
Leaders from the Hindu, Christian and Muslim communities said that the incidents appear to fit a pattern of increased hate-motivated crimes nationwide targeting persons and property associated, or perceived to be associated, with Islam and the American Muslim community.
"As the city of Bothell, our state and our nation grow in diversity, law enforcement authorities must send a strong message that people of all faiths, races, and ethnicities belong here, and our children can go to school and places of worship without fear of bullying or hate motivated violence," said CAIR-WA Executive Director Arsalan Bukhari.
"The FBI and the US Attorneys office must also send a clear message to the public that those who target civilians because of their race, religion, ethnicity, or other protected status, will be met with the full force of the law."
A Nazi swastika and the phrase "get out" was found spray-painted in red on the exterior of the Hindu Temple and Cultural Center around February 15. Another swastika and the words "Muslims get out" was found spray-painted on the exterior of Skyview Junior High.
Photo documentation of the hate graffiti has been provided to the Snohomish County Sheriffs Department and Bothell Police Department. Bukhari noted that there have been a number of similar incidents nationwide including at least six possibly bias-motivated incidents in and around the city of Bothell in recent months.