Worshippers at one of Colorado’s oldest mosques found a window broken when they arrived for a morning prayer session on Sunday, Feb. 27.
“Somebody in the middle of the night came and broke a window — threw a rock,” said S. Bokhari, president of the Colorado Muslim Society. The Araphoe County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the damage, Bokhari said.
It appears the window was broken by a single rock several inches around. No one was in the building at the time; the damage was discovered on Sunday morning by CMS security personnel who were opening the building.
Surveillance footage shows that an unidentified man approached the mosque at around 1 a.m. Sunday, according to Julie Brooks, spokeswoman for the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office.
The man apparently tried to open the front door before throwing the rock. Afterward, he appeared to fiddle with a lock and make a call on his phone before walking off, Brooks said. A deputy’s notes said the man appeared to have been waiting for someone, according to Brooks.
The rock was found about 50 feet inside the building, according to the deputy’s notes.
Nothing was taken from the mosque, and it remains unclear whether the mosque was specifically targeted for its religious beliefs, Bokhari said.
“We let that determination come from the authorities. We just notified them,” Bokhari said. “It is for them to figure out whether it was a hate crime or some person that just wanted to get in and get something. I don’t know.”
The mosque, located at 2071 South Parker Road, was among the first mosques, or masjids, built in Colorado, according to CMS. Today, it’s the headquarters of the network of worship houses operated by the society.
(The mosque has a Denver address, but it’s in unincorporated Arapahoe County.)
This was the first major act of vandalism against the mosque in some time, Bokhari said. People have thrown several food items at the gates, including a sandwich in one case, but it’s unclear whether that was simple littering or an intentional act, Bokhari said.
Earlier incidents included reports of a hateful letter sent after the presidential election, two men who continued to “create disruptions” and an incident where someone put a sticker on a staff member’s vehicles, according to sheriff’s office records.
Word of the broken window has spread quickly. “We have been getting calls about people saying they are very sorry this is happening to us. We are getting a lot of encouraging words from our community, neighbors and everybody,” Bokhari said.
The organization is urging its members to be “extra vigilant.” For his part, Bokhari is confounded but not surprised by the crime.
“It’s a little bit difficult to understand why people do not first learn about it,” he said. “If somebody is interested, they want to learn, they call the imam and he arranges for them to come and talk to him and get more knowledge about the religion itself.”
On Sunday, prayer continued as normal after the damage was found.
For a look inside the building, check out these photos that Kevin took during the holy month of Ramadan: