HAMTRAMCK, Mich. — Authorities are investigating a series of attacks on Detroit-area Muslims, including an assault on a cleric who was hit with a shovel and reports that a group of youths threw shoes at worshippers in a mosque.
The FBI is involved in the case, and Gov. Jennifer Granholm has offered state aid if needed, The Detroit News reported in its Thursday editions.
On Sunday, a group of youths entered Al-Islah Islamic Center in Hamtramck and took shoes that worshippers had left by the door, then threw them at the congregants, mosque officials said. Officials also said mosque windows had been broken twice this year.
Three days before the shoe incident, three men accosted the mosque’s clergyman, Imam Muhammad Uddin, who was hit with a shovel, said Al-Islah President Abdul Motlib. He said Uddin did not need treatment for the leg injury but was unable to attend the mosque for two days.
“There is more that can be done about this situation than what the city has done,” Motlib said.
Representatives of the Council on American-Islamic Relations met with Granholm on Monday and asked for better policing near the mosque.
The council said 15 Muslim merchants in the area had also reported being mugged in the past two weeks.
“We are disturbed by the vandalism of the mosque and the high frequency of attacks that have taken place in a very short time span,” said Dawud Walid, the council’s Michigan executive director.
City Manager Donald Crawford said Hamtramck, a community of 23,000 that is surrounded by Detroit, said he was unaware of any assault on the imam. He also said the city has many Arab-American businessmen so it wasn’t unusual that they would be among its crime victims.
The mosque has drawn the community’s attention in recent years. In 2004, a dispute over its use of loudspeakers for the five daily calls to worship led to a ballot issue involving the city’s noise ordinance. Voters upheld an amendment to the ordinance that specifically allowed mosques to issue the call.