Waterloo police are looking for suspects after a synagogue was vandalized with spray-painted Christian symbols and slogans earlier this week.
The criminal act against the Jewish house of worship is being denounced by one of the state’s Muslim leaders, Miriam Amer executive director of the Iowa chapter of CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
“Vandalism on a religious institution or on any minority community is unacceptable,” Amer says. “It seems minorities are especially targeted. We are Americans, all of us. We need to stand together. This is unacceptable. It is heinous. It should be treated as a hate crime.” Among the vandalism, crosses and the words “Jesus saves” were spray-painted on the wall beside the front door of the Sons of Jacob Synagogue.
“There are a lot of people out there saying, ‘It’s just Jesus saves and a cross and that’s the truth.’ Well, not for Muslims or Jews or Hindus or Buddhists,” Amer says. “We are a community or a nation of multi-ethnic and religious backgrounds. People need to be tolerant of one another, we need to accept one another.” We are living in a time of “angry political rhetoric and heightened emotions,” according to Amer. She adds, it’s important to educate vandals about the serious nature of their act.
“We’ve had a few mosques here in Cedar Rapids and around Iowa that have been vandalized and we all stood together against that and the hate crimes that have been committed against Muslims in this state,” Amer says. “We stand with our Jewish brothers and sisters on this.”
She’s encouraging the FBI to investigate the incident as a hate crime. The vandalism was discovered Tuesday night.