Mosque Vandalized, Police Still Searching For Suspects

FORT SMITH, AR-- - A place of worship targeted and vandalized; on Friday the Muslim community in Fort Smith erasing the marks of racism.

Masjid Al Salam is a peaceful place for dozens in the Muslim community to pray everyday.
That peace, disrupted when racial slurs and symbols of hate were smeared across the mosque.

"There were obscene words all over the front of the Masjid,"  Louay Nassari President Masjid Al Salam said. "There were swastika signs all over the place,"

According to Fort Smith police, just before five Thursday morning three men vandalized Masjid Al Salam.

It was all caught on the mosque's security cameras. The footage shows two of the men spray painting the doors, signs and windows, and then driving away in a minivan.
Masjid Al Salam's President Louay Nassari said the mosque has been on 28th Street for nine years.

"We called it Masjid Al Salam. Salam in Arabic is just the same as Shalom in Hebrew, which is peace, we called it the Mosque of Peace because we wanted nothing but Peace for this community and this country," he said.

A message he said the vandals didn't or don't want to understand.

"People think that ISIS is Islam, Islam has nothing to do with ISIS."

Nassari said mosque members spent eight hours erasing the swastikas and slurs.
And in the hours since, the symbols of hatred have been replaced with tokens of peace left on the porch by local churches and community members.

"The support we've seen from every corner of the community is unmatched I believe."

Nassari said he hopes the men find an understanding of the Muslim culture, so nothing like this happens again here or anywhere else.

"We just feel sorry for them and ask that God lead them to the right path," Nassari said.

The Fort Smith Police Department is still looking for the men in the security footage. If you have information you are asked to call police.
They are also accused of vandalizing the Center for Islam in Fort Smith.

Fort Smith police will have extra patrols in the areas.


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