Just days after an Islamic Center on Manhattan’s Upper East Side was vandalized for the second time, a community group in New York City has launched a campaign to try to combat Islamophobia.
A vandal was caught on surveillance footage using a hammer to break a glass sign written in Arabic at the entrance to the the Islamic Cultural Center of New York on Sunday night, the New York Daily News reports.
“It’s a hate crime. It’s concerning. Who knows what next they could do?” Mohamed Murci, the center’s director, told the newspaper. An NYPD spokesperson told Fusion the incident is being investigated as a possible hate crime.
As the Daily News notes, the Islamic center has been targeted before: in May, someone spray painted and then stole another sign at an entrance to the building.
On Tuesday, two days after the incident, the New York Community Trust announced that they’re awarding $500,000 in grants to 12 Muslim community groups in the city with the aim of targeting Islamophobia. Discrimination and hate crimes against Muslims have been on the rise in the U.S. since the Paris and San Bernardino terrorist attacks last year, according to an analysis of F.B.I. hate crimes data: specifically, attacks on Muslims tripled in the month following the Paris attacks. Advocates say presidential candidate Donald Trump’s proposed Islamophobic policies are also creating an environment of prejudice and distrust.
The trust grant will be used by organizations like the Arab American Association of New York and the Asian American Writers’ Workshop for programs to connect the wider community with Muslims and to develop leadership skills in young Muslim leaders.
“Muslim Americans are part of the diversity that we love about New York,” Shawn Morehead, Trust program director, said in a statement on the trust’s website. “The media and public perception should reflect this reality.”