TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Violence broke out outside the Islamic Center of Tucson on Christmas morning, leaving a broken window and one man with a black eye.
Two ICT members say they were on their way to morning prayer just before 6:30 a.m. when a belligerent group of young men and women attacked them before vandalizing the building.
“It was very terrifying, said University of Arizona PhD student Mohamed Moustafa. “This is my seventh year in this country. And nothing like this happened to me before.”
Surveillance footage captured the scuffle outside the back entrance of the building.
Moustafa and Islamic Center vice chairman Bilal El-Aloosy were walking into the mosque when they were approached by members of the group. Footage shows the group hanging out in the parking lot several hours earlier.
“We looked at them,” Moustafa said. “And they said ‘Do not look at us.’ And then, they started attacking us… I was just confused. I couldn’t even open my phone just to take pictures or just call the police. They were so many hands pushing and punching us. And I just tried to defend myself.”
El-Aloosy was left with a black eye and both men retreated inside.
“I was scared about the people inside and the safety of everybody,” El-Aloosy said.
Two women are then seen using a chair and a rock left outside to smash a window.
The Islamic Center has dealt with vandalism before, but El-Aloosy and Moustafa say this incident was more jarring.
“Most of the vandalizing is in the time that we are not here,” El-Aloosy said. “This is the first time we have an incident that we are here and we are facing these people. So it was really abnormal.”
“We need some kind of understanding and appreciation,” said Moustafa, saying there is no reason for anyone to target them.
The Tucson Police Department is investigating the incident and has not made any arrests.
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