A day after law enforcement officials and interfaith leaders held a news conference in Los Angeles to highlight the vandalism of a local mosque in the midst of Islam’s holiest month, Ramadan, police have arrested a suspect in the case.
The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) announced the arrest of the suspect, Carlos Moran, 43, on April 11. He is believed to be the man caught on surveillance video while scribbling an anti-Islamic hate message with a permanent marker on the pillars of the Islamic Center of Southern California in Koreatown on Easter Sunday.
LAPD Chief Michel Moore described the writings as hate motivated. The Los Angeles Times quoted Moore as saying that although the suspect was unhoused and appeared to have mental health issues, that had nothing to do with his vandalism.
According to photographs, the mosque was defaced with the words “222 FREEDOM USA” and “King 222 did this!” The suspect claimed he was a king.
Police received a tip about the suspect’s whereabouts shortly after it released a screen-grab from the surveillance footage. The Los Angeles district attorney’s office has filed felony vandalism charges against Moran.
“This is an appalling act of vandalism targeting the center where innocent individuals gather for their daily religious observances,” the Islamic Center of Southern California said in an April 9 news statement. The mosque’s members were “deeply saddened and disturbed” and called on “all members of the community to stand in solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters during this difficult time.”
Omar Ricci, a spokesman for the center, related this to other recent incidents: an imam was stabbed during prayers at a mosque in New Jersey on Easter Sunday, April 9, and police in Israel raided the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, Islam’s third-holiest site, three days earlier. These incidents all occurred as the three Abrahamic religions celebrated holy days: Ramadan, which began in late March and extends to April 20, and which coincided this year with Easter and Passover.
“All of this has come together, and it caused certainly a lot of pain for us as a community,” Ricci said.
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