OMAHA Vandals have targeted the Islamic Center of Omaha for the third time in four months, according to mosque officials.
The Islamic Center Chairman, Mohammed Rasheed, said the FBI and local law enforcement are now investigating the incident.
"Shocked to see this happen. We have been here more than 25 years and none of these things happen," said Rasheed.
Spray-painted on one outside wall of the building was the symbol of the Eiffel Tower in the middle of a peace sign; the symbol emerged after the devastating attacks in Paris where 129 people were killed and hundreds of others wounded at the hands of the terror group ISIS. Rasheed said a member of the Islamic Center's cleaning crew discovered the sign on Saturday, just one day after the attacks in Paris.
"We felt terrible because we have nothing to do with what happened outside of the country," said Sayed Sartaj, a member.
"Looks like the people are associating Muslims in this community with the actions of terrorists in Paris which is not correct. We condemn the actions of all terrorist organizations including ISIS," said Rasheed.
WOWT 6 News sat down with Creighton Professor of Pharmacy Naser Alsharif, who is also the moderator for the student Muslim Association on campus. He said Muslims nationwide are on high alert for those looking for revenge.
"We hope that there won't be any incidents at Creighton, or Omaha or Nebraska in general but certainly that's the concern. [Islamophobia] does exist. And it does exist here in the Midwest and even in Omaha," said Professor Alsharif.
He said he was saddened to hear of the recent vandalism of the Islamic Center, but that he and many other Muslims have grown tired of defending their religion after the terrorist acts of extremists.
"The same day this act of violence happened against innocent civilians in Paris, there were two major acts of violence against Muslims in Beirut and Baghdad and it was claimed by ISIS. Sadly, the outcry wasn't there for those two other acts and these are Muslims and they were killed by ISIS so we as Muslims sadly, yes sometimes feel, why do we even have to respond to this," he said.
Surveillance video captured the suspect involved in the two prior vandalism incidents at the Islamic Center, but there have not been any arrests. Rasheed said the frequency of the vandalism is making members apprehensive about coming to worship.
"People kind of ask themselves, is it safe to go to that place or not? Which is an unfortunate thing," said Rasheed.
Rasheed said he hopes people of Omaha, who he said have been accepting and respectful of them in their neighborhood, will ask questions about Islam if they are curious or fearful to help combat harmful stereotypes. Professor Alsharif agreed.
"We need to look at what unifies us as people of faith people of religion and how we can get together to really eradicate these terrorists," he said.
If you have information about the vandals call Omaha police.