Police in Columbus, Indiana, are searching for the vandals responsible for spray-painting "Infidels!" and Quran verses on three Christian churches overnight Saturday.
The words "Infidels!" and "Qur'an 3:151" were found painted in black outside Saint Bartholomew's Catholic Church, East Columbus Christian Church and Lakeview Church of Christ, the NBC-affiliated WTHR reported.
"It's certainly not a warm and fuzzy verse. It talks about the infidels, their refuge being the fire," Father Doug Marcotte, of Saint Bartholomew's, told the station.
Specifically, Quran 3:151 reads: "We will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve for what they have associated with Allah of which He had not sent down [any] authority. And their refuge will be the Fire, and wretched is the residence of the wrongdoers."
The messages left residents and religious leaders shaken as they question the motive behind the messages.
"It's really bizarre and the fact that they hit two other Christian Churches. It's not like we're all in a line. So why did they pick the three of us?" asked Father Marcotte. "There's a lot of bad stuff being done in the name of Allah and so when people see this happening in Columbus ... it makes people nervous. It makes people upset. It makes them scared."
Members of the Islamic Society condemned the graffiti and offered to help clean it up. Member Nassim Khaled said he thinks the Quran verse had been taken out of context, because it refers to a time when people were persecuting Muslims.
"The first reaction was I was very sad," he told the Associated Press. "We are almost certain that it's someone from outside of our community or it's an unstable person."
Ron Bridgewater, a minister at East Columbus Christian, agreed.
"Nobody really thought it was somebody from the Islamic community," he said. "We just thought it was probably some kids trying to stir up some hate."
Columbus police said they are using church surveillance video to try to identify the suspects.
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