Man shatters door of Chicago Islamic center after threats, CPD investigating possible hate crime

Witnesses said man was shouting, 'all Muslims should die'

Monday, March 18, 2024
Vandalism of Downtown Islamic Center investigated as hate crime
A man shattered the door of the Downtown Islamic Center on State Street after making threats Sunday. Chicago police are investigating as a hate crime.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A downtown Chicago Islamic center was vandalized Sunday night, worshipers and Chicago police are investigating the incident as a possible hate crime.

Worshipers said a man had been making threats as members were going inside to pray about 8 p.m. Sunday night at 231 S. State St. in the Loop.

Surveillance video from the mosque shows an encounter with someone as members are entering for prayer. Witnesses said the man was making threats and shouting, "All Muslims should die."

They said the man left and came back with an object, which he hurled at the center's glass door, shattering the glass.

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The incident took place during Ramadan, one of the holiest months in the Islamic faith.

Many were shaken up and disheartened by the incident.

"I think we only mean peace. That's it, peace. Give peace, and take peace," said witness Ajar Hussain.

Salman Azam, who is an executive board member of the Downtown Islamic Center, said Monday he hopes the person responsible will be quickly apprehended.

"We hope that they swiftly apprehend this individual and prosecute so it can send a message that this won't be tolerated," Azam said.

He's deeply concerned about what the center considers a hate crime during Ramadan.

"We saw a spike in Islamophobia and hate crimes taking place from the Israel-Hamas conflict first started, but this incident shows us that this is still prevalent," Azam said.

Dalia Ali works at the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, which is in the same building, where the incident happened.

She said this brings up painful reminders of recent instances of violence against Muslims, like the murder of 6-year-old Wadee Alfayoumi, who was killed in Plainfield last fall, allegedly due to his family's Muslim faith.

She said mosques should be a safe space.

"It's very saddening to hear that this is what we've come to, and, instead of this being a time to come for peace, justice and unity, people are actually so fueled by hate," Ali said.

No one was hurt, and no one is in custody in connection with the incident.

Area Three detectives are investigating.

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