ALAMEDA (CBS SF) — There has been another possible hate crime against Bay Area Muslims, but so far police are investigating the incident as an act of vandalism.
Someone threw a brick and shattered a large window at the Islamic Center of Alameda, located in the 800 block of Santa Clara. It happened to a building where women gather to pray, across the street from the main mosque.
Imam Musa Balde said the shattered window is part of a series of disturbing incidents.
The center has gotten hateful phone calls saying ‘Go back home, you’re not welcome here.’
He says his congregation has also started getting peculiar stares in public.
“(People) Looking at them in a very strange way, making faces and sometimes you know, turning their faces,” said Balde. “Things that never happened before.”
On Thursday, things went from bad to worse. That’s when the center’s window was shattered.
Alameda police Lt. Jill Ottaviano said a crossing guard noticed the broken window when she reported for work Friday morning at 6 a.m., but hadn’t noticed it Thursday night, when she left work at 7:30 p.m.
At this time, Alameda police said they are investigating the incident as an act of vandalism, not a hate crime.
But the people at the Islamic Center feel strongly that it was not just an ‘act of vandalism.’
“We did tell the police officers to investigate it as a hate crime,” said Balde.
He believes the shattered window in Alameda is just one in a string of incidents targeting Muslims — and people mistaken for Muslims — in the days since the San Bernardino shootings that left 14 people dead and scores injured.
The weekend after Syed Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik went on a deadly shooting rampage in Southern California, a woman was captured on cell phone video berating two Muslim men praying at a Castro Valley park. Them men allege Denise Slader lunged at them with her umbrella and threw her coffee cup at them. The video shows her telling them, “You are very deceived by Satan…your mind has been taken over, brainwashed, and you have nothing but hate.”
Days later, the offices of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Santa Clara were evacuated after someone sent a powdery substance in the mail. The CAIR headquarters in Washington D.C. was similarly targeted. The FBI is investigating the incidents.
A few days ago, a video on YouTube titled, ‘Flying with Bin Laden’ started going viral. A man aboard a Jet Blue flight from New York to California videotaped an elderly Sikh man sleeping alongside him on the plane. He captioned the 40-second clip, ‘would you feel safe?’
Imam Balde believes it is no coincidence there’s been a surge in incidents targeting Muslims after Donald Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric on the campaign trail. The GOP presidential candidate has proposed a ban on Muslim immigrants entering the country. World leaders, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahum have condemned the proposal, but Trump’s poll numbers among Republican voters in the U.S. have surged.
“Those who are supposed to be our leaders to lead us from the depths of darkness into the light are actually taking us back into the darkness,” he said.
Balde said since the rock-throwing incident he has noticed more of a police presence in the area. On the bright side, he says the community has reached out and offered their support to the mosque.