Burned Quran pages found outside East Lansing Islamic center
A charred cover of the Quran was found outside the front door of the Islamic Center of Greater Lansing early Saturday morning, according to an official from the East Lansing Police Department, or the ELPD. Feces-smeared pages torn out of the book also were found strewn throughout nearby streets.
The Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR-MI, said in a press release that an unidentified substance was found on the floor of the mosque and the FBI has been contacted regarding the case to investigate on the basis of a hate crime.
The incident coincided with the celebration of the Ramadan, Eid al-Fitr, as well as Florida pastor Terry Jones’s planned “International Burn a Koran Day”. Jones eventually suspended his plans.
Lt. Kevin Daley of the ELPD confirmed that a police report had been filed about the incident and a charred copy of the Quran had been found at the front door of the center. There was no breaking and entering, Daley said. The center is open at all times for prayer.
“It is my understanding that the incident occurred sometime between 11 p.m. on (Friday) and 1:30 a.m. on (Saturday),” Daley said. “There are no witnesses or suspects at this time. We’ve been assisting (the Islamic Center) in any kind of security issues they may need help with.”
Daley said the ELPD also made a call to the Islamic Center at about 5:07 a.m. Saturday to, he believes, check the security of the building.
FBI spokesperson Sandra Berchtold said the Detroit FBI office is currently looking into the incident.
“We are aware of the situation and we are currently working with mosque leaders on (the case),” Berchtold said.
Thasin Sardar, a volunteer for the Islamic Center, said at least 20 youth could have been present in the building’s gymnasium when the incident occurred. Sardar said he was disappointed in the incident, especially after the support the East Lansing community has shown in the past and during this weekend.
“We don’t want this one event to overshadow the larger support of the community,” Sardar said.
Premedical freshman Abdelaziz Adawe was present when the burned Quran was found and helped find and pick up the various torn pages from East Lansing streets.
“I was surprised because I’ve been going to this mosque since I was seven years old,” Adawe said. “This was like my second home. I felt like I was a part of the East Lansing community but now I don’t feel as safe as I used to feel.”
East Lansing Mayor Vic Loomis visited the Islamic Center Sunday afternoon to express the city’s support.
“It’s a deplorable act and the city condemns it,” Loomis said. “This is not at all what the city of East Lansing is about and when I heard about it, I immediately went to the Islamic Center to meet with their leadership team and lend our support to them.”