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O.C. Islamic Educational Center a target of anti-Muslim acts

Costa Mesa police have stepped up patrols near the Islamic Educational Center of Orange County, the target of recent anti-Islamic acts including vandalism, hate mail and the burning of two copies of the Koran.

Vandals also recently defaced part of an outdoor interfaith holiday display in Mission Viejo, according to the Los Angeles office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which denounced both acts as “incidents of anti-Islam hate targeting the local Muslim community.”

The two incidents are thought to be unrelated but appear to be part of a recent uptick in anti-Muslim acts nationally, especially since the attempted terrorist bombing of a jetliner headed to Detroit on Christmas, council spokeswoman Munira Syeda said Saturday.

A burned and torn copy of the Koran was found in the parking lot at the educational center, on Airport Loop Drive, during Friday prayers. It was the second time in a month that a desecrated Koran had been found there, according to a statement on the Costa Mesa mosque’s website.

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“This deplorable incident is a form of anti-Islamic assault, hate crime and terror campaign against American Muslims,” it read. “Even more, it is a great offense against 1.2 billion Muslim followers worldwide because it defiles their holiest and most sacred divine book.”

Costa Mesa Police Sgt. Ed Everett said that his department has increased patrols in the area but that no arrests have been made.

In the Mission Viejo incident, vandals defaced the Islamic portion of the holiday display but left nearby Christian components untouched. They painted over a verse from the Koran and left behind a piece of paper reading “No Islamic Lighthouses in the U.S.A.”

Syeda said the vandalism of the display, at La Paz Road and Chrisanta Drive, was reported to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, which provides police services to Mission Viejo. Investigators could not be reached Saturday.

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Syeda and other Muslims said they hope the incidents prompt public disavowals of such behavior.

“Americans of all faiths, and leaders of all political persuasions, must repudiate those who would divide our nation along religious or racial lines,” Hussam Ayloush, the L.A. council’s executive director, said in a statement.

kim.christensen@latimes.com


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