After Vandalism at La Mirada Mosque, an Interfaith Call for Unity

August 28, 2006

Source: San Gabriel Valley Tribune

On August 28, 2006 San Gabriel Valley Tribune reported, "Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious leaders called for unity and tolerance Friday at a mosque hit twice this week by vandalism.

'If you don't have unity, there is nothing,' Rabbi Lawrence Goldmark of Temple Beth Ohr in La Mirada said at a news conference at the Muslim Community Services Inc. mosque in La Mirada. The conference was called by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

Vandals shot out two windows and a glass door at the mosque on Aug. 10 and again on Monday, prompting fears among congregates that their place of worship had been deliberately attacked.

However, on Thursday, FBI officials determined that the vandalism was not the result of a hate crime, and police arrested two men in connection with a week-long vandalism spree in which about 40 locations were damaged by BB gun pellets, including the mosque.

Kevin Mortellaro, 25, and Ryan Rivera, 18, both of La Mirada are charged with assault with a deadly weapon, stemming from a BB gun attack on a school bus that slightly injured a child, Sheriff's Department officials said.

As religious leaders stood in front of the mosque's newly repaired glass windows, they spoke of the need to build stronger relations between people of different faiths - and to dispel the myths and mystery that surrounds Islam.

'I'm here to offer support as a member of the religious community,' Goldmark said. 'Fortunately, this was not a hate crime. But the key thing was the members of this mosque were very distressed.

My presence as a representative of the Jewish community is very important,' he added.

In an effort to squash myths about Islam, Muslim community members will hold 'open mosque day' Sunday in which people of any faith can visit participating mosques to meet Muslims and see for themselves what Islam is all about."