The largest mosque in Austin has been vandalized again and this time Muslim leaders are calling the incident a hate crime.
Despite the vandalism at the North Austin Muslim Community Center, members returned to pray last night and they say attacks against their place of worship will not stop them from practicing their faith.
Imam Islam Mossaad says, "It's not so much about the property damage as much as the attack on the sanctity of a place of worship whether it's a mosque or church or a synagogue these are sacred places."
About two weeks ago someone smashed in the front windows and doors of the mosque. They were just replaced.
This time Mossaad says someone damaged their fence and slashed the tires of cars on their property. He says nothing was stolen and there is no doubt in his mind what this was.
"We're unable to know for sure until we apprehend the suspect but it has all the hallmarks of being, especially in the current atmosphere of being a hate crime," Mossaad says.
About 2,000 people come to pray at NAMCC throughout the week and safety has become critical. The mosque is looking to hire more security guards to patrol the area at night.
Mossaad says the damage inflicted on the mosque was not substantial the second time around but he considers the attack, whether big or small, an attack on his faith. He says he'd like to sit down with the suspect or suspects and educate them.
"Why would someone attack a mosque I think it would be done out of ignorance out of hatred maybe out of fear but I think that all of that can be overcome just from face to face interaction," Mossaad says.
The Austin Police Department is investigating both vandalisms. The mosque will remain open 24 hours a day and seven days a week for anyone who wants to pray.