North Austin mosque vandalized for 2nd time this month, police say


Austin police are investigating a second case of vandalism at a mosque in North Austin this month.

Police received reports of the vandalism at the North Austin Muslim Community Center, 11900 N. Lamar Blvd., around 1:51 a.m. on Thursday.

Adnan Suleiman, vice president of the center, said a man entered the property through a wooden fence early in the morning and slashed all four tires of a van, and those on a vehicle belonging to a security guard who has been patrolling the property since another incident earlier this month.

On Sept. 2, the mosque was damaged by a vandal who was captured on security footage entering the property through a wooden fence, then smashing glass doors at the front entrance. He also smashed a glass door and window of a side entrance, the center said.

Suleiman said video footage appeared to show the same man in each case.

"This is the first time that we think this is more of a hate crime," Suleiman said. "This is the first time we think, ‘Oh you got to wake up, there's someone who is probably not liking who you are.’ "

 Austin police had not yet determined if the Sept. 2 incident was the result of a hate crime, police Lt. Daniel Watson said earlier this week.

Watson, the chairman of the Police Department's hate crime committee, said the group meets monthly to go over cases that could involve hate.  

"We have to show, not only was there a crime, but was it because of a hate characteristic," Watson said. "The hate crime itself isn't a crime, but it's an enhancement to the existing crime. "

Since the Sept. 2 incident, the mosque has added a full-time, armed security guard and is working with Austin police to stay safe, Suleiman said. 

"It's really difficult to believe that this happened in Austin," Suleiman said. "This is my 18th year in Austin. To tell you the truth, I have not seen a better environment for Muslims than Austin."

The Austin community has been supportive since Sept. 2, Suleiman said. 

"The amount of support we got, it sort of like, outweighs the things we went through the past two to three weeks," Suleiman said, adding that tires were also slashed in a parking lot near Muslim-owned businesses in late August.

"This is something that, if anything, actually bring people together,” Suleiman said. “When you get into an act or event like this, people actually put things aside and come together." 


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