A Sikh temple or gurdwara under construction in Sterling Heights, Mich., was recently vandalized with graffiti, in what some are calling a hate crime.
The incident occurred late Sunday night or early Monday morning and is currently under investigation by the Sterling Heights Police Department. The graffiti on the building's outside wall depicts a gun and a Christian cross. Also legible are the words "Mohmed," potentially a reference to the Islamic prophet Mohammed, "Dont Builed," "fcuk you" and the letters "R" and "A."
Sterling Heights Police Public Information Officer Lt. Luke Riley said Wednesday nothing left at the site has helped identify the culprit. He said media attention to the case may cause a witness to step forward. Anyone with further information is asked to contact the department directly.
The graffiti's possible reference to Mohammed, the Islamic prophet who is not a figure in the Sikh religion, has caused some to argue the defacement was directed at Muslims, Michigan Radio reports.
The Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) contacted local and state officials asking them to investigate the incident as a hate crime.
"We call upon local and federal law enforcement agencies to rightfully classify this incident as a hate crime and bring the perpetrators to justice to show that hate and violence are not tolerable in our society," SALDEF Associate Executive Director Jasjit Singh said in a statement.
The Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI) has also urged the incident be investigated as a hate crime, according to WXYZ.
The U.S. Department of Justice in Detroit has met with members of the Sikh congregation, but it's not clear how they might be involved in the investigation. SALDEF also contacted the office of the U.S. Attorney.
"Attacks and vandalism against any of the nation's houses of worship must be condemned by all Americans," said Singh.
According to WXYZ, The gurdwara is due to be finished in the summer and will serve 225 families.