Our Neighbors Should Not Feel Threatened | Not in Our Town

Our Neighbors Should Not Feel Threatened


Manteca, CA  Mosque Attack, Photo courtesy of CAIR.


After vandals in Manteca, CA struck a community mosque in early February, faith leaders and the local newspaper responded quickly in support of their neighbors.The attack included “F___ ISLAM” spray-painted on the welcome sign of the mosque as well as on the ground nearby. Vandals also left strips of bacon around the facility, a gesture often used by bigots to offend Muslims, as they are not supposed to consume pork, according to a statement by the Council on Islamic-American Relations (CAIR). .

“Manteca Police classify it as a possible hate crime. But let’s call it for what it is. It is a terror attack on Americans,” wrote Dennis Wyatt, Managing Editor of the Manteca Bulletin.  The  Manteca Bulletin op-ed continues a call for action.  “Our neighbors should not feel threatened simply because of their faith, their beliefs, their skin, their dress, or any other factor. The evil that left its mark must not go unchallenged. It must not be allowed to fester and multiply.”

At a community event  a the Mosque sponsored by  diverse faith leaders, residents were able to get a full tour of the building, which was only completed last summer, and a calligrapher wrote out the phonetic names of participants in Arabic. It was a chance for community members to see the mosque as it really is, a place of worship, a cultural site, and a community center for the Muslim families who live in the northern San Joaquin Valley.

The mosque, officially the Islamic Center of Manteca, shares a parking lot with the Baptist church next door, showing what appears to be a general camaraderie between faiths in this city that sits equidistant between San Francisco and Sacramento.
This is the second act of vandalism on the Islamic Center of Manteca in only a few months. Vulgar messages were spray-painted onto the same welcome sign last November, and the culprits were never caught.

Both incidents are being treated as hate-crimes by the Manteca Police Department, though there are still no suspects, according to Sgt. Jodie Estarziau.

While hate-crime status highlights the gravity of the incident, Muslim leaders stress that retribution is not their objective.

“The event was amazing, and there was a great turnout,” said Basim Elkarra, executive director of the Sacramento chapter of CAIR. Elkarra said that mosque leaders were overwhelmed by the support they received from all over the state

“I don’t want [the vandals] to spend the next 10 years in jail,” said Elkarra to the Manteca Bulletin. “I just want to offer education to those people. We’ve had people call us up cursing and screaming and by the time they hang up they have an understanding of Islam that they didn’t have before.

“That’s what we want.”


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