Police are investigating a possible hate crime at the Islamic Center of San Diego, after more than 50 flyers referencing the Israel-Hamas war were posted outside, local reports said.
The flyers, found early Thursday, feature the word “kidnapped” above photos of people reportedly taken from Israel by Hamas, the reports said.
Imam Taha Hassane told Fox 5 San Diego that he feels the flyers are targeting the center based on religion and are “hurtful.” Hassane is the center’s imam and director, both spiritual and administrative leader.
Speaking to Fox 5, Hassane accused those responsible of “trying to intimidate the community, trying to spread this hatred, and trying to tell the society we’re responsible for this.”
“They are trying to link the entire community – American Muslim community – with Hamas, with whatever is going on over there. They are trying to portray us with and associate us with Hamas.”
San Diego police have confirmed they’re investigating the flyers as a “hate incident,” but have said they might need to prove a property crime such as vandalism or property damage to meet the requirements under the law since posting flyers isn’t always illegal, the reports said.
Hassane told Fox 5 his Muslim community is used to threats and harassment, and has even experienced assaults. Yet, “we are so proud that we are a vibrant community contributing to the betterment of our nation like everyone else.”
“Even though as a community we have nothing to do with any party or any group in Palestine, we support of the people of Palestine and the rights of the people over there as we support all the people of all the oppressed, all over the world, not only Palestine,” he said.
According to KPBS, Hassane has allied with local Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and nonreligious groups on issues such as immigration, homelessness, racial injustice and worker wages. He is originally from Algeria.
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