BY JESSI MITCHELL, News 9
An act of anti-Islamic vandalism in Oklahoma City had an unexpected impact this week, bringing together people from different religions to help clean it up.
The owner of the OK Halal grocery store told News 9 he has no idea why someone would target his business. Over the years, other Muslim establishments in the city have experienced hate crimes, but it had never happened at the store.
This week, the building was hit twice.
The owner arrived Friday to find an array of messages in bright orange spray paint, condemning ISIS, while calling out the Council on American-Islamic Relations and specific members of the nearby mosque.
“Hate’s always going to be there, but we’re fighting it with love,” said Haris Ali, the mosque’s youth director, whose name appeared in the graffiti.
Ali believes the vandal chose the store because the mosque has security cameras to patrol its perimeter. OK Halal only has cameras inside.
The graffiti was short-lived, though.
Friday afternoon, members from the mosque, as well as local Christian and Jewish worship centers, chipped in to apply a fresh coat of paint.
“It shows us that there are people out there with good hearts, and they really want to help out and they don’t feel like the people who would go so far as to do this graffiti and vandalism,” Ali said.
On Saturday, News 9 alerted the store to a new troubling tag on a different side of the building.
This time, the image was a hangman with spaces for a five-letter word spray painted in brown.
Ali encourages the culprit to stop hiding behind a spray can.
“If you have preconceived notions about anyone or anything or any group, then you already set your mind, but if you really want to know what Islam is really about we’re right here. Come to the mosque. Talk to us,” Ali said.
The store's owner is now considering installing cameras and better lighting around the outside of the building.
If you have any information about this vandalism, call Oklahoma City police at 235-7300.