Muslim leaders decry cryptic vandalism

Leaders of the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations Thursday decried vandalism that targeted a Santa Cruz mosque.

Zahra Billoo, the chapter’s executive director, said vandals spray-painted a Star of David and the number 26 on a door at the Islamic Center of Santa Cruz.

Billoo said she had no idea what the number signifies, but speculated that the Star of David might be a reference to the ongoing violence in Israel and Gaza:

“It’s so hard to say what it means even when symbols are left behind. … They’re not necessarily symbolic of what you might think.”

Billoo said she was “surprised” and “horrified” by the act:

“So often, Islamophobia is something that many Bay Area Muslims think of as happening in other places. … It’s not as common to have these things happen in California and especially not in the Bay Area.”

With the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, often known as ISIS, Billoo said she has noticed an increase in complaints of derogatory comments targeting individual Muslims in the area:

“We’re really hoping the investigation can help them figure out who did this and send a speedy message that this is not something that’s accepted or welcome in Santa Cruz or the Bay Area.”

Local police are investigating, she said.