A Hindu priest and some volunteers arrived at the temple one morning to cook when they saw the shattered glass.
Eight windows lining the main entrance of the Kent Hindu Temple near Seattle had been smashed. Some of the metal frames were turned and twisted, and inside the building, temple members saw some large rocks.
On a wall, someone had scrawled a single word: “FEAR.”
The Kent incident on Friday comes 11 days after the largest Hindu temple in the Seattle-area was vandalized. The words, “GET OUT” were spray-painted on the Bothell temple’s wall, along with a swastika.
The Kent Hindu Temple attracts about 200 people to Sunday services and is located in Kent, about 20 miles south of Seattle. Whether the damage was the work of one vandal or several people is unknown, said Jugal Thakor, president of the temple’s board. He said he did not want to speculate on the motivation for the vandalism.
In the Bothell incident, a swastika and “Muslims get out” were spray-painted on the side of a public junior high school near the temple. Police say the person who targeted the junior high school may have been the same one who vandalized the Hindu temple.
“Houses of worship are places where people should be able to be safe, at peace, and inspired to serve others,” said Padma Kuppa, a Hindu American Foundation board member, in a statement issued after the Bothell temple vandalism. “Instead, the vandalism of the Hindu temple in Seattle and the arson of a mosque in Houston this past weekend incite fear and result in distrust among communities.”
The Kent incident was condemned by the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Washington chapter, in an interview with KOMO News in Seattle.
“When a place of worship gets attacked, it’s a little late,” said Arsalan Bukhari. “I think the time to respond is when hate rhetoric is promoted. We want lawmakers to stand up and say, ‘This is not right. This cannot happen in America today.’”
This year, the FBI will start tracking hate crimes specifically against Hindus, as well as Arabs, Sikhs, Buddhists, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Orthodox Christians.
Members of the Kent temple called the Kent Police Department after discovering the damage, and are planning a follow-up meeting with officers to discuss future protection.
Thakor told the Los Angeles Times that the damage could cost the temple as much as $10,000, including window repair, re-painting the wall and installing security cameras.
Thakor said nothing like this has happened before.
“People in the community are pretty tolerant,” he said. “Nobody wants to see this happening.”
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