It's not known whether Friday's shooting at a Corpus Christi mosque was intentional, but the incident illustrates the vigilance local Muslims must carry, even in a place of worship.
Corpus Christi police and the FBI are investigating the source of a bullet that pierced the front door of the McArdle Road mosque sometime Friday, perhaps early in the morning. Luckily, no one was hurt.
The incident coincides with Ramadan, a month-long religious observance of dawn-to-dusk fasting, prayer, reflection and giving to the poor. In pre-Islamic times, Ramadan was religiously significant as a time when warring Arab tribes observed a truce.
Now, the mosque's 600 members must be more cautious as they gather to pray and study, in a place where they should be safe to practice their religion as they wish without fear of bullets, stray or not. They are installing video cameras as a security precaution and members are being told to be more aware of their surroundings.
Clearly, this is serious business. Local Crime Stoppers is offering $1,000 for information leading to an arrest, with the FBI chipping in another $5,000. Authorities may never know for sure the source of the shooting or the intent, if any, behind it. But it's hard to believe that a bullet from a high-caliber weapon just happened to penetrate Corpus Christi's one mosque right after the Sept. 11 anniversary and at the beginning of Ramadan. Police Chief Bryan Smith believes the incident is a hate crime, not a random act.
As sad as it is, this experience is a chance for the community to show support for its neighbors, to reach out to local Muslims and let them know Corpus Christi is a place where freedom of religion not only exists but is welcomed. Osama Bahloul, spiritual leader at The Islamic Center of South Texas, has said he hopes the shooting was accidental.
Hopefully, he's right. Corpus Christi shouldn't become a community that reacts with violence based on ignorance and fear of a religion that is different from the majority's. If intentional, this shooting isn't just an attack on Muslims, but an assault on the decency of Corpus Christi residents, regardless of religion. [Link]
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