After vandalism at Islamic Center, prayers carry message of peace
Hours after vandalism was discovered at the Islamic Center of Delaware, the afternoon prayers by religious leaders there carried a message of peace.
“We do not repeal evil with evil,” Imam Sheikh Hadi said to about 1,000 people gathered at the prayer service “We repeal the evil with one which is better. This is not a sign of weakness.”
Earlier that morning, those arriving at the mosque along Salem Church Road near Newark found the entryway near the road was ripped apart. They believe it happened sometime before dawn.
A white picket fence was broken into pieces. A wooden sign with the name of the mosque was knocked down, and another sign was damaged. A cross, a sign used by the Christian faith, was created from the resulting debris.
“This is very hard. This is very shocking for us,” said Mahamed Allimulla, president of the Islamic Society of Delaware. “We’re just trying to realize why this happened.”
The destruction at the property was thought to be the first and only problem at the mosque, several leaders there said Friday.
Syed A. Balkhi, social secretary at the society, was left wondering if this was a message targeting the Muslim community.
“Is this the first step? I don’t know,” Balkhi said, adding he wondered what going to happen the next time. “That’s what I’m worried about.”
The group was expected to meet later that day to figure out what the next step was going to be, Balkhi said. The concern was that the center had never been vandalized in the nearly 25 years the building has been there.
“Even after 9/11 this sort of thing never happened,” he said.
State police were at the scene of the incident, and a representative from the state Human Relations Commission was there to gather evidence of a possible hate crime. State police say anyone with information about the crime is asked to call Troop 6 at (302) 633-5000.