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San Francisco’s Oldest Mosque Vandalized – CBS San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) – Members of the San Francisco Islamic Center are shaken after someone destroyed their mosque, the oldest in the city, on Friday night. Executives serving on the board of directors say that it is rare for a crime to be committed against their place of worship on the corner of Crescent Avenue and Andover Streets north of Alemany Blvd.

“We’re scared, we were unsure, we didn’t understand what happened because we haven’t seen anything like this in our community for a long time,” said Shahbaz Shaikh, a scholar based in the mosque. “We’re part of this community, we’re part of the Bernal Heights community.”

A vandal broke the window of this mosque in San Francisco. (CBS)

San Francisco police say a suspect threw a bottle through a glass window, breaking it, and then ran away.

Shaikh told KPIX on Sunday that at the time, a member of the mosque happened to approach the building to return supplies and heard the sound of glass breaking. Nobody has been to the mosque where prayers are held all day. Friday is usually a busy day for members to attend church services.

“We’re not sure what that person’s intention was, you know, we’re scared,” said Zuhaib Siddique, a board member of the mosque. “As a Muslim community, of course, we are always a bit scared.”

Police have not identified a motive for the crime but say they are investigating the case.

The bottle not only stained the carpet with beer, but also scattered glass on the floor. Siddique said they were about to order a new window to replace the one that was smashed. The mosque will also receive an updated security system. Its members have already offered to help with the costs and the neighborhood has expressed support after learning of the crime.

A surveillance video shows someone running away that night, but the footage is not clear enough to identify a suspect.

“The community is shaken and we want to take the time to ask the San Francisco police to do their due diligence and really capture the person who committed this crime,” added Shaikh. “In this community they see us not only as Muslim neighbors, but as neighbors and as part of the community.”

Siddique told KPIX on Sunday that the mosque dates from the 1950s and is one of the oldest in California. Members who have prayed here for decades say they can’t remember another crime like this that happened at the mosque since September 11th. It is not just a place of worship, but an important place 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 happens on us, we feel like our home has been attacked, ”said Shaikh.

While the mosque is taking steps to reassure its members, leaders also hope that the suspect will want to learn more about their community in addition to the ramifications for their actions.

“We hope to open up more dialogue. We hope that the person who did this will one day visit the mosque and sit down with us learn from us, ”said Siddique.

Prayers continued in the mosque over the weekend and members came all day on Sunday. The employees have masked the window for the time being until it can be replaced.

“This is our home and we will continue as usual,” said Shaikh.

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