Investigation ongoing in possible hate crime

By SHERRI KOLADE
Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — There are no new leads in the FBI’s hunt for those who allegedly damaged a Muslim community center storage area after a fire burned part of the building and graffiti targeted at Muslims was found on and around the windows.

The Dearborn Woods Community Center on Pelham, was discovered vandalized about 11 a.m., June 12.

A nearby mosque, the American Muslim Center, 21110 Outer Drive, uses the community center for special functions and events.

Executive Director of the Southfield-based Council on American-Islamic Relations, Michigan Chapter Dawud Walid requested the FBI’s involvement to look into whether the arson and graffiti on the center’s 20-foot-by-20-foot building, which Walid said had the word “Arabs” and a man’s genitalia scrawled on it, was the result of a hate crime.

“It wasn’t simply because of a perceived arson attack on storage area of the center but also that ‘Arabs’ was written on one of the back windows along with a derogatory depiction of male genitalia,” Walid said. “That is what leads us to believe that.”

Dearborn Police Chief Ronald Haddad has another viewpoint on the alleged hate crime.

“There is no evidence to indicate that it is a hate crime,” Haddad said. “We have evaluated the graffiti and it appears to be malicious behavior.”

Haddad said the graffiti was added to the building far before the fire.

“It does not appear to be related,” Haddad said. “That was a big question.”

Haddad is continuing to ask for the community’s help in the investigation.

“We need more witnesses to come forward,” Haddad said. “If we can ask the communities to help if they have any information, they can contact us. We have some positive leads.”

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