A large green and white painting of Jesus Christ hanging on the cross was left outside the Hillside Islamic Centre in Long Island, New York on Friday.
The Nassau County Police Department is now investigating the incident as a “hate crime”, reported Daily Mail.
“A worker there had found this large painting of Christ on a cross on the property,” reported an anchor for NBC 4. “The anti-Muslim message was found hanging from a fence, deemed to be so obviously because it was a mosque.”
The worker then alerted the police who arrived at the mosque around 5:45 pm. “Nassau County police said they were investigating the incident as a possible hate crime,” said the reporter. The “anti-Muslim message", as the NBC 4 anchor labeleld it, was a green and white painting of Jesus’ silhouette hanging on the cross, reported CNS New York.
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The man who hung the painting outside the Islamic centre and left was caught on camera as well. The police department urged anyone in the community with additional knowledge of the incident to contact them.
“Members of this North New Hyde mosque feel someone tried to attack their religion Friday,” said a reporter for News 12 Long Island. “The reaction was kind of surprised, that in this community, we’ve been here since 2002, this is the first time it has happened,” said a member of the Hillsdale Mosque.
Another member said although Jesus was considered a prophet in Islam, “that’s not what he [the man who placed it there] meant” when he hung the painting out on the fence. “He meant something else, you know. We don’t believe in image. We don’t have an image for Jesus, you know. We don’t have an image for Muhammad (PBUH).”
The president of the mosque, Abdul Aziz Bhuyian, told The Island Now, “I’m sure… he wanted to provoke. Had he had good intentions he would have come to us. We’re always here."
He further told the website, “We want to make sure the person doesn’t do the same thing to anybody else.” He also added, "The man, wearing a dark shirt and white shorts, then hung the painting on a fence outside the building at 301 Covert Ave."
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) condemned the incident but also suggested it could provide a learning opportunity for members of the community.
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"Bias may have motivated this incident, but it could serve as a teaching moment for the perpetrator and for the community if it leads to greater understanding of the love Muslims have for Jesus, peace be upon him,” the CAIR said in a statement on its website.
The statement added: “The Quran, Islam's revealed text, states, 'Behold! The angels said: 'O Mary! God giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from Him. His name will be Jesus Christ, the son of Mary, held in honor in this world and the Hereafter and in [the company of] those nearest to God'.”
News 21 Long Island concluded its coverage of the incident by reporting that the Islamic Center will soon host an “interfaith barbeque” on July 21 in "hopes of building trust and understanding in the community".
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