Feces smeared on Muslim van near Bellevue mosque
By JOSHUA ADAM HICKS
Bellevue Reporter Former Staff Writer
June 28, 2010 · Updated 4:13 PM
Vandals reportedly smeared excrement on a van displaying ads for Islam while the vehicle was parked outside a Bellevue mosque Thursday.
The incident happened across the street from the Islamic Center of Eastside, near the corner of Main Street and 148th Ave. NE.
A local Muslim returning from noon prayer found a substance that appeared to be feces on the van's windshield, driver's side window, and side door handle. He called police around 7:40 p.m.
The Washington state chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIRN-WA) has asked authorities to investigate the matter as a possible hate crime.
Bellevue police will increase patrols near the mosque, and they are treating the incident as a case of vandalism or malicious mischief, according department spokeswoman Carla Iafrate.
"It could possibly be bias or a hate crime, but there's no indication right now that it's anything other than poop smeared on a van," she said.
Why Islam aims to help people "understand Islam and do away with misconceptions," according to CAIRN-WA executive director Arsalan Bukhari.
Bellevue Police captain Patrick Spak met with Bukhari and two Why Islam vounteers this afternoon to talk about the incident and explain that police plan to increase patrols near the mosque.
"We have to keep this in perspective," he said. "The van is not damaged and the building is not damaged. From a police department perspective, we don't want to over-react, but we don't want to under-react."
Police have no leads on suspects. They are urging anyone with information to come forward by calling 9-1-1.
"It's very likely somebody out there has information on this," Bukhari said. "Tips from the public can really help solve this."
Bukhari said he doesn't know of any incidents of malice against local Muslims, but a group called Act! For America recently put "nasty fliers" with anti-Islam rhetoric under the wipers of every car parked at three Muslim schools renting space in Newport, Redmond, and Tacoma.