Man shatters glass door of Downtown Islamic Center, harasses worshippers

A man shattered the glass door of a mosque in the Loop Sunday night after verbally harassing worshippers.

The unknown man kicked in the front door of the Downtown Islamic Center in the 200 block of South State Street around 8 p.m. He fled on foot, according to police. No arrests have been made.

Executive board member Salman Azam said the man had been loitering near the mosque’s entrance and making Islamaphobic comments. He tried to enter the building before shattering the glass.

“Seeing what transpired last night, we’re pretty frightened, and rightfully so,” Azam said.

The vandalism comes amid Ramadam, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar. Around 600 to 700 people pray at the mosque each day, according to Azam.

The broken glass was cleaned up Monday morning, but the front door remains boarded up.

“It’s sad to see that these things still occur,” Azam said. “We really feel all houses of worship are safe beacons, where people should feel safe at all times.”

The Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations called on officials to investigative the vandalism as a possible hate crime.

“Because of the alleged threats made to worshippers and the vandalism targeting the mosque, we urge state and federal law enforcement authorities to investigate this incident as a possible hate crime and to step up security for this and other houses of worship in the area,” CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab said in a statement.

Anti-Muslim and anti-Arab incidents tracked by the CAIR are on the rise nationally, up 178% in the last three months of 2023 from the previous year, the organization said.

Azam said he remains hopeful that the assailant is identified by police.

“We’re trying to be vigilant, and we hope that the community can help us apprehend this person so that people think twice about committing a hate crime,” Azam said.