- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 15, 2002

A Muslim group whose mosque was vandalized after the September 11 terrorist attacks found hate-based graffiti yesterday on its newly built community center in Sterling, Va.
Loudoun County sheriff's deputies received a call at about 8:30 a.m. yesterday from members of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society, who had found swastikas and ethnic slurs spray-painted on the rear entrance of its new community center. The center, at 46903 Sugarland Road, is expected to open in October or November, said society president Rizwan Jaka.
The vandalism occurred sometime between 5 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m. yesterday, said Kraig Troxell, public information officer for the sheriff's department. There are no suspects in the case, and anyone with information about the incident is asked to call the Sheriff's Office Criminal Investigations Division at 703/777-0475.
Yasir Syeed, a member of the society's community relations committee, said the group has been in Northern Virginia since 1983, but the center on Sugarland Road will be its first permanent home and took a decade of hard work to build.
"For us, it's a symbol of our permanence in the area of our hopes and our dreams and what we've labored for for a long time," Mr. Syeed said.
The All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) is in a rented storefront at 46970 Community Plaza in Sterling and serves about 1,400 families, Mr. Syeed said.
On Sept. 12, 2001 a day after Muslim extremists flew hijacked jetliners into the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon someone broke into the building and painted obscene graffiti in the worship hall and on the outside of the building.
"It's very disturbing that there are people out there with this sort of hatred," said Mr. Syeed, who called the discovery yesterday "an ugly reminder."
Last Wednesday, on the first anniversary of the attacks, the society held an interfaith vigil. About 70 people attended, Mr. Jaka said, most of them Christians and Jews.
"It was a time for us to reflect on September 11, on the victims and families of the victims, and to let them know that our thoughts and prayers are with them," he said.
Construction began on the new 20,000-square-foot building last December, and only the inside of the center has yet to be finished. Mr. Jaka said that in addition to the mosque, the center will have basketball courts, classrooms for Sunday school and a computer learning center.
Mr. Syeed said it would hold all kinds of celebrations, such as weddings and graduations.
"It's really a true community center," he said.
The society plans a previously scheduled open house from 2 to 7 p.m. today at its current location, and Mr. Syeed said the group may take visitors to the new community center a few miles away.
He said the incident gives the group an opportunity to teach about peace and tolerance.
"We hope the people who did this will come to our open house," he said.

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