- Associated Press - Thursday, January 12, 2017

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) - A swastika and profane message cursing Arabs spray-painted on a Lebanese family’s garage that Ohio police are investigating as an act of ethnic intimidation have been painted over.

Souheir Eltatawy, of Sylvania Township, tells The (Toledo) Blade her daughter painted a new message - a red heart - on the garage Wednesday that acknowledges the support they have received.

“Everyone has been supporting us. I could not believe we have this kind of support in the community,” Eltatawy said.

Eltatawy’s daughter had found the graffiti Tuesday night. Eltatawy told The Blade she hadn’t previously experienced such intimidation since arriving from Lebanon in 1988.

A son, Moustafa Eltatawy, told The Blade that the graffiti at the home of his mother and sister initially made him angry and fearful for his family, which is Muslim.

“But it wasn’t long before I started to feel sorry for the person who did it because the kind of energy that it would take to harbor that kind of hate, it would be taxing on that person,” he said. “I feel that if they would have knocked, I would have invited them in for a coffee or tea to talk about why he feels we are responsible for his anger.”

Leaders of the United Muslim Association of Toledo and the Cleveland chapter of the Council on Arab-Islamic Relations condemned the vandalism and urged community leaders to do the same.

The Muslim association president called for law enforcement to consider it as a hate crime, WTOL-TV reported.

A worker is expected to repaint the family’s garage on Thursday.


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