The NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating graffiti that was found scrawled at the site of a mosque under construction in Queens Village.
The graffiti, which included a reference to the 9/11 attacks, was reported just before 5 p.m. on Saturday, according to Inspector Jeffrey Schiff, commanding officer of the 105th Precinct.
The property, located at 80-35 237 St., is owned by the Islamic Foundation of New York, which has its headquarters in Bellerose Manor.
Ibrahim Hooper, the national communications director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the graffiti appears to be part of a continuing pattern.
“I think we’ve been seeing this more and more involving Muslim institutions and Muslim individuals since the election of President Trump, and even before that when he was on the campaign trail,” Hooper said. “And not just Muslims. African Americans, Hispanics, immigrants — there has been an increase in hate incidents targeting all minority groups. This is just symptomatic of that.”
In a joint statement on Monday, Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows) and Councilman Barry Grodenchik decried the vandalism.
“The anti-Muslim graffiti vandalism that appeared on a construction fence on 237th Street in Bellerose Manor, where a mosque is under construction, is repugnant to this community and deeply disappointing to see in this day and age,” they said.
“Inflammatory words of hate, acts of vandalism, and attacks on the free exercise of faith have absolutely no place in a civilized society and deserve to be condemned,” they added. “A hate crime against one of us, is a hate crime against all of us, an assault on our inclusive New York Values, and a threat to our identity as Americans.”
Albert Cahn, legal director for CAIR’s New York chapter, also said the incident seems to reflect a growing pattern.
“It’s always disappointing when we have vandalism at a house of worship,” Cahn said. “Queens is a symbol of diversity and inclusion.”
Cahn said there has been a 10-fold increase in the last two years of hate-related or discriminatory incidents directed toward Muslims across New York State.
“It’s mosques, children in school, discrimination at work or Muslims just walking down the street,” he said, adding that the Hate Crimes Task Force was a valuable partner in their mission.
Cahn said his organization and the city must remain vigilant whether the source of the graffiti turns out to be a person capable of violence or teenagers pulling what they might have considered to be a prank.
“Regardless of context, it is incumbent on the community to condemn this hatred,” he said.
Multiple attempts this week to reach officials with the Islamic Foundation of New York for comment were unsuccessful.