News ID: 8988
Publish Date: 16 August 2012 - 09:29
Followers of various faiths have turned out to the site of a planned mosque in Ontario, California, in a show of solidarity with the Muslim community following an attack on the worship place.

"They are the kindest people," Martial Leonard, a neighbor to the mosque, told the Daily Bulletin. "I feel religion is one of the freedoms I fought for in Vietnam, and they have a right just like I do to pray to whomever they want to."

Pig legs were thrown by vandals at the site of a planned mosque in Ontario, California, last week. Muslims consider pigs unclean and the timing of the attack during the holy fasting month of Ramadan is especially offensive.

Muslims do not eat pork and consider pigs and their meat filthy and unhealthy to eat. In response, followers of various faiths in Ontario gathered in support of the Muslim community against the attack.

"I was ignorant to the Muslim belief at one time," said the Reverend Jan Chase of the Unity Church of Pomona. "I finally allowed myself to learn about the religion and the people associated with that religion."

The Christian leader said that Muslim worshippers are the same as in every other faith. "They hold the same essential beliefs that we all do," she said. "I find the evilness and hatred associated with last week's desecration disgusting and hurtful."

The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department has launched an investigation into the mosque attack. "We have an ongoing investigation into this incident," sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Anthony Vega said.

"We are not looking into this as a hate crime for the moment, but as an act of vandalism at a place of worship." Bringing Ontario faiths closer, Muslims say the attack achieved the opposite of what vandals intended.

"This is enlightening to see all these faiths coming together for us," said Rachid Achmed, chairman of Al-Nur Islamic Center. "This hatred has prompted a community outcry, and it's working."

The attack on Ontario mosque follows a series of assaults in which mosques and a Sikh temple were attacked. Last week, two air rifle shots struck the outer wall of the Muslim Community Center of Chicago overnight while 500 people prayed inside.

The shots were heard by worshippers who were outside the mosque and were powerful enough to damage the building's brick wall. The shooting followed an arson attack on a Joplin mosque in southeast Missouri in which the Muslim worship place was burned to the ground last week.

It came after a deadly shooting at a Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, in which seven people were killed. The umbrella Council on American-Islamic Relations sent a letter to the US Department of Justice (DOJ) urging it to investigate the attack against the Muslim worship places.

"Only firm action by local, state and federal law enforcement authorities will send the message that bias-motivated attacks on Muslims, or Americans of any faith, will not be tolerated," CAIR-LA Executive Director Hussam Ayloush said.

Earlier this week, CAIR issued a community safety advisory for mosques following attacks targeting Muslims and Sikhs. "We are scared and for good reason," said Faisal Qazi, a board member of the mosque.

"There have been many attacks on our religion many times in the last few weeks." Yet, the warm support expressed by Ontario faiths softened Muslims worried about their security.

"It makes me proud to see several faiths supporting us in this day and age," Qazi said. "Abraham taught us that life was about building, we together as one can become the foundation to build faith and trust in all."

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