Officials say the FBI and West Warwick police are investigating a vandalism incident at the Islamic School of Rhode Island as an apparent hate crime. Racial slurs, profanities, and anti-Islamic phrases were spray-painted on entrance of the school over the weekend.
The vandalism occurred Saturday night, according to video surveillance footage. The incident comes just days after the shooting of 3 Muslim students in North Carolina. The Islamic school, located in West Warwick, serves about 160 children from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade.
The School’s principal, Abdelnasser Hussein said he’s been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support. “It’s amazing, the support, and the calls. Many people are showing sympathy, and they are very sympathetic with what’s going on, and actually giving us a kind of relief, and helping us pass this very difficult time.”
Despite outreach from the community, Hussein said as an educator, he’s worried there is a growing backlash against Muslims in the nation. “This is a school that is serving United States students, no matter their religion. They are still the kids of this nation, so any harm that may happen to them, is hurting the everybody around the United States, not only in Rhode Island,” said Hussein.
Hussein says, staff will need to discuss possible changes to the school safety policy, and adds he hopes to increase the school’s police presence. He hopes to have the graffiti cleaned up before the students return to school from winter vacation. Officials say this is the first time the school has dealt with this kind of vandalism.
U.S. Senator Jack Reed condemned the act, saying, "Our state was founded on religious freedom and we are strengthened by our diversity. There is no justification for this type of intolerance and bigotry in our community."
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