Early Sunday morning, a Mosque in Escondido, California was set on fire and covered with graffiti with references to the Christchurch shooting. Seven people were inside, but fortunately, no one was injured and the congregants were able to extinguish the fire before officials made it on the scene.
The vandals left behind graffiti which directly referenced the Christchurch shooting, specifically calling out the shooter. The exact language and graffiti used has not been released as it is a part of an ongoing investigation. An accelerant was also used to set the fire, prompting involvement by the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in the probe.
Authorities have declared the incident an act of arson, as well as a hate crime. Hate crimes against the Muslim community have been on the rise internationally, with over 95 reported crimes against Muslim communities in response to the Christchurch shooting. At a local level, the Escondido’s growing Muslim population has led to increased anti-Islamic sentiments.
In response to the arson attack, the Escondido community held a vigil that a hundred people attended the night after the attack. Interfaith prayer was included in the vigil, and the crowd drew people of all denominations and backgrounds.
Media: Washington Post 2019; San Diego Union-Tribune 2019; Escondido Police 2019