4 teens arrested for hate crimes against mosque

August 8, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Ramadan is a sacred time for Muslims, but in one Hayward mosque, prayer has been disrupted by vandals and police are calling it a hate crime. The Muslims who gather at the modest-looking mosque are mostly from the Fiji Islands. They say the ethnic diversity there has taught them to be extremely tolerant, but after several attacks by vandals, they lost their tolerance.

This past Saturday, members of the mosque in Hayward had just broken their 16-hour fast for Ramadan and were conducting a final prayer. That's when they heard the sound of oranges and lemons being thrown against the side of the mosque.

"As soon as we start our prayers, they start throwing things at us. They come and pick up our shoes and take our shoes away," said Mohammed Khan, President of the American Muslim Association.

Several of the members saw someone throwing the oranges over this fence. They chased them down and cornered four neighborhood boys between the ages of 13 and 16 and had them arrested. The president of the mosque says this is the fourth time this has happened during Ramadan, which is the holiest month of the year for Muslims.

"They have shot BB guns at us. They have thrown eggs at our windows," said Khan.

"Stop doing this because we're a part of you. It doesn't matter that we're a different religion. You're supposed to treat everyone how you want to be treated," said Shaizal Shah, a mosque member.

"They wouldn't do that to their church, right? So they should have respect for us," said Zaber Hussain, a mosque member.

Khan says mosque members even spoke to the parents of the boys before Saturday's incident, but the harassment continued. Police say all four boys are being charged with committing a hate crime. However, Khan wants to meet with them again.

"We are human beings just like you are. We worship just like you and your parents do at other churches. We just have our own place to worship," said Khan.

Around 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, a young teen walked up to me and admitted he was one of the four arrested. He seemed genuinely remorseful, so I walked him up to the mosque and they invited him to take off his shoes, come in and they spoke for a while. He says he has to do six months of community service work and now he's thinking about doing it at the mosque.


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