MANCHESTER, NH (CBS) – Shards of glass are evidence of the rock and brick throwing rampage at a Manchester, New Hampshire mosque that’s been under construction bit by bit for the last five years. Police filed paperwork this week in juvenile court implicating 11 and 13-year-olds in the crime.
“These are newly placed windows that one of our community members just donated. All broken, every one of them,” said Dr. Salman Malik, a trustee of the Islamic Society of Greater Manchester.
It’s a small community of New Hampshire Muslims looking for a permanent place of worship. Volunteers and donations are making it possible. Besides the windows there was an attempt to set a fire inside.
“It’s sad, you’re looking at children,” said Dr. Malik who would rather forgive than punish. “What we’re hoping is that they realize the significance of the destruction they caused. This is a serious event.”
Police say they are still searching for a third juvenile who they believe was also involved in the vandalism that was caught on surveillance cameras, helping investigators to identify the suspects. They are also trying to determine if it was a hate crime based on writings found on social media. “I understand they were full of hate saying it’s a good thing it happened, that they deserve it because of who they are,” said Dr. Malik.
Manchester Police Lieutenant Maureen Tessier says there is information that suggests “a bias-based motive” but the investigation continues. It’s a financial hit that sets the project back, the windows costing at least $30,000. Insurance will cover some, but not all of the damage.
If it’s motivated by hate, Dr. Malik hopes to turn that around. “I think it’s important for them to be educated about what is an Islam Muslim community. I think somebody needs to sit down with them and teach them a little about respect.”