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FBI investigates vandalism at Oklahoma City mosque as potential hate crime

Vandals spray-painted the Grand Mosque in Oklahoma City early Saturday, authorities said, sparking an FBI investigation into “a potential hate crime,” FBI spokesman Rick Rains said.
by Carla Hinton and Juliana Keeping Modified: April 27, 2013 at 9:37 pm •  Published: April 27, 2013
/articleid/3804160/1/pictures/2038266">Photo - Hassan Ahmed, imam of the Grand Mosque of Oklahoma City. Oklahoman Archive Photo by Carla Hinton, The Oklahoman
Hassan Ahmed, imam of the Grand Mosque of Oklahoma City. Oklahoman Archive Photo by Carla Hinton, The Oklahoman

“We're afraid that although we have condemned those acts over and over again, and our faith doesn't support acts of violence or terrorism, we're afraid people may be using that as an excuse to attack the local Muslim community,” Soltani said.

The two suspects in the April 15 Boston Marathon bombing are Muslim. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, is in custody at a federal prison hospital, and his brother Tamerlan, 26, died after a shoot-out with police April 19.

When Ahmed was asked if he thought the vandalism was backlash from the Boston bombing earlier this month, he said, “We really don't know. We cannot actually assume anything and we cannot rule out anything.”

Ahmed said only some members of the mosque were aware of the latest vandalism. Those that were apprised of the incident Saturday afternoon were surprised by the attack, he said.

Ahmed said as far as he knows the congregation is not fearful because of the incident.

“Everybody doesn't know what it means. They are shocked,” he said.

Ahmed described his mosque members as educated people who love Oklahoma. He said he has lived in the state for 18 years, and he feels the same way. He said he thinks Oklahomans are generally peaceful people and that the vandals are the exception to the rule.

“This is what I believe. I don't want to live anywhere else.” has disabled the comments for this article.
by Carla Hinton
Religion Editor
Carla Hinton, an Oklahoma City native, joined The Oklahoman in 1986 as a National Society of Newspaper Editors minority intern. She began reporting full-time for The Oklahoman two years later and has served as a beat writer covering a wide...
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by Juliana Keeping
Enterprise Reporter
Juliana Keeping is on the enterprise reporting team for The Oklahoman and Keeping joined the staff of The Oklahoman in 2012. Prior to that time, she worked in the Chicago media at the SouthtownStar, winning a Peter Lisagor Award...
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