Police are investigating both incidents as hate crimes and the FBI is also involved.
The vandalism at the two mosques are among a spate of incidents in Southern California over the past two weeks that are being investigated as hate crimes – possibly as retribution for the mass shooting in San Bernardino earlier this month that left 14 people dead and more than a dozen others injured. The attack was carried out by husband-and-wife shooters who were apparently inspired by Islamic extremism.
A 23-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of committing a hate crime and arson for allegedly fire-bombing a mosque in the Coachella Valley last week. No one was injured in the fire, but the mosque was damaged.
A bomb squad was called to one of the Hawthorne mosques after worshiper Muhammad Awadallah found a replica hand grenade early Sunday morning. He told KNBC that vandals also painted the word “Jesus” on the wall:
“That’s like if a Muslim went to a church and wrote ‘Prophet Muhammad is the way.’ We’re not going to do that. If he wanted to say ‘Jesus is the way,’ he could have just told us that,” Awadallah said. “(Saturday) we had a Christina and Muslim march right here. I mean it was peaceful, everything was wonderful. (Sunday) at 5 o’clock in the morning, we come to pray and we see that on the wall.”
In addition to the attacks on mosques, a number of Muslim women who wear the hijab have reported that they’ve been harassed and threatened since the San Bernardino shooting and the ISIS-inspired attacks in Paris.
In a speech about the San Bernardino shootings and the threat posed by homegrown Islamic extremists, President Barack Obama urged Americans not to blame Muslims or Islam itself for the violence.
“Just as it is the responsibility of Muslims around the world to root out misguided ideas that lead to radicalization, it is the responsibility of all Americans — of every faith — to reject discrimination. It is our responsibility to reject religious tests on who we admit into this country. It’s our responsibility to reject proposals that Muslim Americans should somehow be treated differently. Because when we travel down that road, we lose. That kind of divisiveness, that betrayal of our values plays into the hands of groups like ISIL. Muslim Americans are our friends and our neighbors, our co-workers, our sports heroes — and, yes, they are our men and women in uniform who are willing to die in defense of our country. We have to remember that.”