PLAINFIELD, Ind. (WISH) — Late Monday afternoon Plainfield police released grainy video of three men spraying graffiti on the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) building. The spray paintings were laced with racial slurs and obscenities.
Leaders at ISNA called an afternoon news conference at the building on Monday. During the 45-minute press conference, ISNA Sectary General Hazem Bata had a surprising response to the damage the vandals cost the mosque.
“I’m here to thank the vandals,” Bata said.
Despite the damage, Bata told a room full of journalist and supporters that the crime has made the community stronger.
“The bonds between Muslims and fellow Americans are stronger than the bond of spray paint and brick,” said Bata.
Police have not released any information on the identities of the suspects.
Supporters pointed out examples of Muslims under attack not only in Plainfield but across the state and country.
One supporter called on the Indiana State Legislature to pass a law on hate crimes. Indiana is currently one of four states that does not have a hate crime.
24-Hour News 8 asked Bata if he plans to press charges if the suspects are caught. He said he will consult with law enforcement on how to proceed with the case.
If you have any information in the investigation, you can call Crime Stoppers at 262-TIPS.
“It upsets me to see something like that,” Julie Knust, who lives near the mosque, said.
ISNA reported the graffiti to police and the FBI as a hate crime.
“You don’t see this sort of thing anywhere in town,” said Jerry Knust.
Plainfield police said three people can be seen on surveillance video, but police have not released suspect descriptions.
The Islamic center has been a fixture in Plainfield since 1982.
“We’re in this together with them; they’re a part of this community,” Knust said.
ISNA calls itself the largest and oldest Islamic umbrella organization in North America.
“I do hope whoever did this is caught. I hope it’s not somebody from our community,” Knust added.
“The Indianapolis office of the FBI is aware of the incident in Plainfield, Indiana and are in regular contact with local authorities,” FBI spokesperson Wendy Osborne said in a statement. “If in the course of the investigation, information comes to light of a potential federal civil rights violation, the FBI is prepared to investigate.”