Islamic graffiti on churches in Columbus, Ind. not taken lightly - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Islamic graffiti on churches in Columbus, Ind. not taken lightly

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Before he washed it away church minister Dwayne Gandy took cell phone pictures of the three messages. Before he washed it away church minister Dwayne Gandy took cell phone pictures of the three messages.

COLUMBUS, Ind. (WDRB) -- Late Saturday night or early Sunday morning someone tagged three churches in Columbus, Indiana with Islamic graffiti.

You can still see the faded outline of the black paint on the walls of Lakeview Church of Christ, but before he washed it away church minister Dwayne Gandy took cell phone pictures of the three messages.

The graffiti at that church includes an Islamic crescent moon on one wall, the word infidel on a second and verses from the Quran on the third.

“I looked them up,” Gandy said. “They're talking about bringing fear into the hearts of the unbelievers” said Lakeview Church of Christ pastor Dwayne Gandy.

Gandy says he's no expert on the Quran, but found the messages alarming.

“An uneasy feeling, wondering why someone would pick our congregation in order to do this to and why anyone would do it to begin with,” Gandy said.

Across town, the pastor of East Columbus Christian Church found similar messages on his church walls, but he says his first thought was not a threat from radical Muslims.

“My first reaction was it's probably some kids just trying to incite fear,” Pastor Ron Bridgewater said.

Police say they are making no assumptions as to the motive behind the vandalism but as of now, they are not classifying it as a hate crime.

“At this point it's being classified as an act of vandalism; we've received no information to classify it as anything other than that,” explained Sgt. Matt Harris of the Columbus Police Department.

The leader of the Columbus Islamic Society is condemning the acts, saying whoever did this took verses from Quran out of context.

“Whoever wrote these verses on the walls, obviously they are ignorant. They just took pieces of a complete story and wrote it down on the walls,” Nassim Khaled said.

The church leaders say they're using the vandalism as a teaching opportunity.

“Sunday morning my sermon topic was how to deal with people who are cruel,” said Bridgewater.

Gandy said “to me it doesn't really matter what the intent was of who did it, we forgive, we love and we want everybody to be at peace with one another.”

Police say they have no suspects yet. But they do have surveillance video which they hope will provide some clues.

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