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'Obscene and hateful' graffiti spray-painted on Islamic center in Roseville, police say

An Islamic center in Roseville was the target of a hate crime Wednesday, becoming the second mosque in Northern California to come under attack by vandals in nearly two weeks, officials said.

In the latest incident, someone spray-painted "obscene and hateful graffiti directed at Muslims" on the outside walls of the Tarbiya Institute in the 1800 block of Sierra Gardens Drive, according to the Roseville Police Department. Authorities think the incident occurred between 11 p.m. Tuesday and 6:30 a.m. Wednesday.

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In a statement to worshipers, the institute said it does not believe the hate graffiti is "reflective of the sentiment in our community." The institute said it has received support from the community over the last few weeks and some residents even helped removed the graffiti.

"Nonetheless, we at Tarbiya believe that this incident is a microcosm of a sinister spirit that has been perpetuating in our country, and sponsored by people in power," the institute said. "This spirit emboldens some who are full of hate to actually take action. Spray paint is a lot less harmful than murdering worshipers at the mosque or burning it to the ground."

The Roseville Crime Stoppers and Council on American-Islamic Relations' Sacramento Valley chapter have offered a $2,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the hate incident.

The institute said it planned to increase security, install surveillance cameras and motion-sensor lights.

The incident comes nearly two weeks after vandals attacked a mosque in Davis on Jan. 22.

Authorities said a woman shattered half a dozen windows and placed strips of bacon on a door handle at the Islamic Center of Davis in the 500 block of Russell Boulevard. The council said "bigots often use pigs or pork to offend Muslim sensibilities."

Davis police are still looking for the woman and are asking anyone with information to call their tip line at (530) 747-5460.

On Thursday, the executive director for CAIR's Sacramento Valley Chapter blamed "President Trump's extreme rhetoric" for recent anti-Muslim incidents.

Two other recent attacks on Islamic centers in North America have made international headlines.

On Jan. 28, fire gutted the Islamic Center of Victoria in Texas. On Jan. 29, a gunman killed six worshipers at a Quebec City mosque in Canada.

According to U.S. Department of Justice hate crime statistics, reports of anti-Muslim crimes have increased 9.5 percentage points from 2010 to 2015. Of the 1,354 religious hate crimes reported to the FBI in 2015 — the most recent year of reporting available — just over 22% targeted Muslims. The majority of religiously motivated hate crimes that year, or just over 51%, were described as being anti-Jewish.

Following the graffiti incident, the Tarbiya Institute urged people to speak out against hateful speech.

"In order to stop this negativity from growing, all of us, people of faith and people of no faith, need to stand against this type of behavior everywhere we witness it," the institute said. "On the dinner table, on social media, at the workplace, wherever."

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Twitter: VeronicaRochaLA 

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