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Grijalva visits Islamic Center after vandalism

Posted at 5:11 PM, Mar 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-11 19:11:01-05
Ongoing vandalism at the Islamic Center of Tucson has attracted the attention of Congressman Raul Grijalva.
 
He visited the center Friday to express his support of its members after recent vandalism incidents involving University of Arizona students. 
 
The vandalism incidents started in about October of 2014. It's even been captured on video a handful of times. Trash and bottles can be seen falling from apartment balconies of the high-rise building Luna, that directly overlooks the center. 
 
The trash often lands in the Islamic Center's parking lot. 
 
"We have kids as little as 6, 7 years old out there playing," said Taha Hasan, director of public relations for the Islamic Center of Tucson. "There's also a playground right there as well that's uncovered so debris can get into there and hurt people as well."
 
The last incident happened at the end of January, according to the center. It was one of three incidents since the spring semester started. After that, the apartment building evicted four residents.
 
Hasan says the center tends to see more incidents when there's national attention on their religion or on terrorism. 
 
"There's definitely a correlation," he said. "I think when there was the San Bernardino shooting, we had incidents here." 
 
Grijalva visited the center to speak to its members after prayers and address what he calls intolerance and bigotry. 
 
"That's not the face of America," he said. "You see more and more people of the Muslim faith being made targets and that's when I felt that it was important for me to come and let them know that that's not the majority thought."
 
Grijalva also said he continues to encourage the university to enforce a zero tolerance policy for incidents like this.
 
Hasan says the center is working with the apartment building to find a permanent solution to this vandalism, but in the meantime he says the center has an open door policy. 
 
"Anybody who wants to come to our center is always welcome anytime, any day to come learn about us and learn about what were all about," he said.