By Paige Laver
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – A beer bottle was thrown through one of the windows of San Francisco’s oldest mosque late last week, leaving members of the local Muslim community shaken.
San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin tweeted his support of the Muslim community: “I am shocked to learn of this recent attack against the Islamic Center of SF. Attacks on our Muslim community and any religious community are unacceptable. Hate has no place in San Francisco. Hate has no place in CA. Hate has no place anywhere.”
Police reported to the Islamic Center of San Francisco around 11:48 p.m. on Friday, the San Francisco Police Department told McClatchy News.
Friday is an important day in the Islamic community, a prayerful day for those who come together to hold services throughout the day.
During the attack, there were people inside the mosque, and one person said that he and others heard the sound of glass breaking at the time, the police and News Observer reported, although the San Francisco CBS local reported that there was nobody in the building.
Leaders who serve on the Board of the Islamic Center of San Francisco said that it is rare to see a crime against their house of worship, at the corner of Crescent Avenue and Andover street, located in the Bernal Heights district of San Francisco.
“We’re scared, we were uncertain, we didn’t understand what was happening because we haven’t experienced something like this in our community in a long time,” said Shahbaz Shaikh, a mosque resident scholar. “We’re a part of this community, we’re a part of the Bernal Heights community.”
San Francisco police reported that the suspect threw a bottle of beer into a glass window, causing it to shatter, and ran away from the scene.
Shaikh told KPIX that on Sunday a member of the mosque happened to be approaching the building to return supplies, and heard the sound of glass shattering.
“We’re not sure what the intent of this person was, you know, we’re scared,” said Zuhaib Siddique, a board member for the mosque. “As a Muslim community, of course we are a little scared.”
Police have not identified a motive for this crime but are actively investigating the case.
The bottle not only stained the carpet with beer but spread glass over the floor. Siddique said that they are in the process of ordering a new window to replace the one that got broken.
The mosque will be getting an updated security system to help prevent incidents like these. Their members have already offered to help with the cost and the neighborhood has expressed its support after learning about the crime.
Surveillance video footage showed someone running away that night but the footage is not sufficiently clear to identify a suspect, authorities said.
“The community is shaken and we want to take the time to just ask the San Francisco police department to do their due diligence and really catch this person who committed this act,” Shaikh added. “In this community, they view us not just as Muslim neighbors but as neighbors and that we’re part of the community.”
Siddique told KPIX on Sunday the mosque dates back to the 1950s and it’s one of the oldest in the state of California. Members who have prayed there for decades say they cannot remember another crime like this happening to the mosque since right after 9/11. Not just a place of worship, it is an important setting for families to gather for celebrations and funerals.
“A prayer center, it’s a community center, it’s a home for Muslims so when an attack like this on us we feel like our home was attacked,” Shaikh said.
While the mosque is taking steps to make its members feel safe, leaders of the community also hope the suspect will want to learn more about their community, along with facing the consequences, including taking accountability for their actions.
“We’re hoping to open more dialogue, we hope that the person who did this will someday come visit the mosque and sit down with us, learn from us,” Siddique said.
Prayers continued over the weekend and members arrived throughout the day Sunday. Staff have taped up the window for now, until it can be replaced.
“This is home for us and we’re going to continue on with business as usual,” Shaikh said.