Police investigating assault, criminal damage at Islamic Center of Tucson
TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD/Gray News) - Police in Arizona are investigating a report of an assault and criminal damage at the Islamic Center of Tucson on Christmas, KOLD reported.
The Tucson Police Department said the incident is not being investigated as a hate crime because there was no indication it was hate-based and no mention of religion was made during the fight.
Authorities said a group of young people was drinking nearby when Bilal El-Aloosy, the vice chairman at the Tucson Islamic Center, and his friend arrived for morning prayers.
“It’s a peaceful time that we enjoy because it’s usually quiet,” El-Aloosy said.
A fight broke out between the group. El-Aloosy was punched when he tried to break it up.
“Two girls and three guys. They came and they started punching. My friend was with me standing at the door, so I pushed him inside, then I tried to defend until I could get in,” he said.
A woman from the group that was drinking threw a chair and broke a window at the facility.
Once the window was broken, the group that was drinking fled the scene in vehicles. El-Aloosy said he doesn’t feel it was a targeted attack.
“They are under the influence I believe in one way or another that is why they couldn’t control their actions against other people,” he said.
Azza Abuseif, executive director of the Arizona chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, sees it as a hate crime and wants to see more security at the mosque.
“We’re in the midst of this staggering rise in anti-Muslim violence and discrimination worldwide and it’s a lot deeper than that attack this weekend,” she said.
Councilman Steve Kozachik said vandalism has happened at the mosque in the past.
“There have been all kinds of things bottles, pumpkins and things thrown off the 10th-floor balconies into the playground and parking lot,” he said.
Kozachik said incidents like this must stop.
“It does not reflect what Tucson stands for,” he said.
El-Aloosey feels communication is key to keeping the peace.
“Reaching out, in a way that we can solve this problem in the future and make sure it’s not going to happen,” he said.
The police department has not made any arrests in this case. If you have any information, please call 88-CRIME or go to www.88crime.org
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