Federal agents are investigating whether vandalism at an Islamic high school in Sylvania early yesterday morning where swastikas and "white power" slogans were spray-painted on the property was racially motivated, authorities said.
The incident is not being considered a hate crime - a conclusion that cannot be made until later in the investigation, authorities said.
Six windows of the Toledo Islamic Academy High School, 5242 McGregor Lane, were painted with red swastikas, and two windows were shot with what authorities believe was a BB gun.
Swastikas also were spray-painted on the school's entrance doors and on eight trees on the northeast side of the school. The words "white power" were painted on the side of a truck in the school's parking lot along with several green swastikas.
"To see something like this was disappointing," said Principal Aalaa Eldeib, who reported the vandalism to Sylvania police when she arrived at the school about 8:15 a.m.
"I feel like it was done out of ignorance."
Detective Laura Bliss said there were no suspects last night, but believes teenagers were involved. The detective said it doesn't appear that any-one associated with the school was a specific target of the vandalism, which occurred between 3 and 6 a.m.
Julia Shearson, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations Cleveland chapter, is concerned about the recent number of incidents targeting American Muslims throughout the country.
FBI agents are investigating an incident in Columbus Sept. 14 - one day after the holy month of Ramadan began - in which several young people allegedly threw rocks at a group of people worshipping at a mosque, Special Agent Michael Brooks said.
Several shots were fired at a mosque in Corpus Christi the same day. No one was hurt. The following day in New York, an Iranian-American woman was brutalized by robbers who called her a "terrorist" and wrote anti-Muslim messages on a mirror in the nail salon she owns.
"We take this very seriously," said Ms. Shearson, who is expected to arrive in Sylvania today to meet with Ms. Eldeib and other members of the mosque.
"These kinds of hate crimes harm entire communities and affect the quality of life of all residents."
More than 7,000 incidents of hate crimes were reported across the nation in 2005, according to the most recent statistics available from the FBI, with one reported in Lucas County.
Ziad Hummos, a member of the Masjid Saad mosque, said this type of crime cannot be tolerated.
"We have to learn to respect each other and our differences," he said. "God made us different for a reason."
The Toledo Islamic Academy moved into the former Cathedral of Praise Church on West Alexis Road at the end of June.
Masjid Saad, a mosque with between 400 and 500 members, bought the main church building and a former school for $2.7 million, which now houses the Islamic high school.
As students arrived yesterday, they were taken to another location on the property while the graffiti was cleaned off the building, Ms. Eldeib said.
"You could see some worried faces," she said.
Contact Laren Weber at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6050.