Could it be a hate crime or just random destruction? That's what local police and FBI agents are investigating after the Islamic Center of the South Plains was broken into Saturday night. The Islamic Center was completely ransacked, and racial slurs were written on the walls, but members of the mosque say even if it is a hate crime, they don't think the Lubbock community shares the same feelings as the vandals.
Prayer time was different at the Islamic Center of the Plains on Sunday. According to police, an unknown number of people climbed over the fence, threw a cinder block through the window of the mosque, then destroyed the inside.
"They went into our Imam's office and they ransacked that, and they ransacked the television education system we have. They took the VCR, they took away our sound system that we had, and they took some loose cash," said Salman Ahmad.
Ahmad says the damage isn't a concern monetarily, but it's the intent of the destruction that they question.
"Right now, there are a bag of mixed feelings. Most people tend to think that it is a random act of crime, some people still think that it is a hate crime. Police and the FBI are investigating it so we don't know what it is, but I am a positive thinker and I would like to think that it is probably not a hate crime," Ahmad said.
Ahmad and the center's leader, Mohammed Moctar, say this community has always been accepting of the more than 600 Muslims, and for that reason, if it was an act of hate, they feel it's an isolated incident.
"We are happy that we have the public authority that is ready to protect. We are sad that there are some people that target our people, not because of something we did but because of who we are and what we believe, but at the same time, we know this does not reflect the people in the community," Moctar said.
"My message is that we are here to stay and we are not going to get intimidated by any acts like that in the future," Ahmad said.
Hillside 13 was written on the walls multiple times and police say that could be the name of a gang or even gang slang. Right now, the FBI tells us they have very good leads and do not expect the investigation to take long.