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Masjid Al-Jamia, a mosque located on the intersection of 42nd and Walnut Streets, was vandalized on Dec. 29, 2023.

Credit: Jeff Hammond

Masjid Al-Jamia, a mosque located at the intersection of 42nd and Walnut streets, was vandalized on Dec. 29th, prompting police investigation. 

The incident, which was captured on a security camera, is the third time a mosque has been vandalized in Philadelphia in the past two months. The mosque was defaced with graffiti depicting biased statements against the Muslim community. 

Members of Penn’s Muslim Student Association founded this mosque in 1988. Since then, the mosque has served as a vital component of the West Philadelphia community, hosting around 700-1000 Muslims for the weekly Jumu’ah prayer. 

“The vandals wrote phrases including ‘Give [peace sign] a chance’ and other symbols, including a Star of David, on the doors and walls of the mosque,” CAIR-Philadelphia, the Council on American-Islamic Relations stated, according to NBC

CAIR-Philadelphia Executive Director Ahmet Teklioglu described the violation as "unacceptable," telling NBC that the council is "calling on Philadelphia communities to stand united in the face of today’s hateful, dehumanizing rhetoric against Muslims.”

“We are seeing this as an outcome of the dehumanization of Muslims broadly in what’s going on in Palestine,” Dr. Tekeliogu said. He sees a correlation between a rise in these incidents and the war in Gaza. 

Two other similar incidents recently occurred in and outside Philadelphia at the Khair Community Center in November 2023 and the United Muslim Islamic Center in October 2023, CAIR reported.

“Our office continues to see an unprecedented uptick in reports alleging bias incidents and discrimination,” Dr. Tekelioglu said in a statement released by CAIR. “Law enforcement authorities must investigate this vandalism as a hate crime.” 

Masjid Al-Jamia representative Shuja Moore also commented on the incident in the statement, writing that "should they come forward and admit to their mistake, we will be ready to have an informative and restorative conversation with this individual.”

CAIR also called on civic, political, and interfaith leaders to show their solidarity by sending letters to their address at 4228 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104. Recently, organizations such as Jewish Voices for Peace Philly have shown their support following the vandalism through a community letter-writing event. 

The suspect was caught on surveillance footage wearing blue jeans and a red coat. The police continue to investigate this incident.