Organization fears Islamic Center vandalism was related to the political climate

Posted at 8:11 PM, Nov 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-03 22:04:56-04

Early Wednesday morning a Boynton Beach Islamic Center was vandalized. Someone spray painted the front sign with profanity directed at the faith.

Now, a growing number of people fear crimes like this one are the result of the tense political climate.

The spray paint has been scrubbed away for the most part, but the mark is still visible.
“On one side, he wrote “F ISIS,” on the other side he wrote “F Islam,” said Wilfredo Amr Ruiz, Communications Director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
“We have an individual out there, we don’t know what he’s capable to do.”
Tthis is not the first time in recent months that we’ve seen violence against the Muslim community. 

In September, someone set the Fort Pierce Mosque on fire. Before that, vandals hit the Islamic Center of Palm Beach. 
“Definitely the political rhetoric is one of the main causes,” said Ruiz.
CAIR says there has been an increase in violence towards Muslim communities and believes it is due to this heightened political climate.
“The hate speech and rhetoric that has come along this presidential campaign is fueling this type of crime that endangers not only the Muslim community but the Florida community in general," said Ruiz.

It’s not clear yet if Wednesday’s vandalism will be investigated as a hate crime. However, in the last year or so, the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office says it has also seen a spike in these crimes.

“We’ve seen the same information that the community is seeing, where there have been some high profile incidents regarding mosques and Islamic centers here in South Florida and Palm Beach County in particular and we are obviously paying attention to that,” said State Attorney Dave Aronberg.
He says hate crimes are an enhanced penalty and not a separate crime itself.