May 2, 2011

Graffiti on Portland mosque under investigation

By David Hench
Staff Writer

PORTLAND — The Center for Preventing Hate denounced the inflammatory graffiti spray-painted on a mosque in downtown Portland as an act of "hate and bias."

The graffiti, which included comments like "Go Home" and Osama Today Islam tomorow(sic)" was found hours after Pres. Obama anounced that U.S. forces had killed Osama bin Laden.

"Muslims in Maine and across the U.S. deserve the same respect as all others who live here," said Steve Wessler, executive director of the Portland-based center. "They serve in our armed forces, teach in our schools and care for our sick. On September 11, Muslim firefighters and paramedics courageously stayed in the Twin Towers trying to save lives. “

“The death of Bin Laden should be a call for the end of terrorism worldwide,” Wessler said. “It should not be the beginning of bigotry in our state. We are better than that.”

click image to enlarge

Jirde Mohamed walks past the front of a mosque on Anderson Street in Portland today where someone spraypainted graffiti on the wall in the wake of Osama Bin Laden's death. Bin Laden and Islam are not the same thing, said Mohammed, a member of the mosque who has lived in Portland 10 years.

Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

Officer Gavin Hillard writes down contact information at a mosque on Anderson Street in Portland today where someone spray painted graffiti on the wall in the wake of Osama bin Laden's death. The writing says "Osama today Islam tomorow (sic)," and "Long live the West."

Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

1 p.m.

Portland police are investigating anti-Islam graffiti painted onto the Maine Muslims Community Center on Anderson Street.

The graffiti included: "Osama today, Islam tomorow (sic)," "Long live the West" and "Free Cyprus."

The letters were written in maroon paint on the mosque's gray cement block wall. The graffiti was written sometime between late Sunday night and about 7:15 a.m. today, when it was discovered by Portland Housing Authority workers on Anderson Street.

A crew from Graffiti Busters was called in this morning to remove the graffiti, and it had finished the task by 10:45 a.m.

Officials with the community center said they recently completed purchase of the building, where they've been since 2007, for close to $1 million.

They said they're disappointed by the graffiti and concerned about the impact it will have on children.

The mosque, or masjid, caters to a predominantly Somali Muslim community in greater Portland and is the largest Muslim community in the city. Members say it is the first time, the center has been defaced with graffiti.

"It makes me feel like I'm not welcome," said the group's treasurer, Abdiaziz Mohamed, who said his four children were born here.


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