ARLINGTON — Hundreds of worshipers attend Friday prayers at the Dar El-Eman Islamic Center in south Arlington.
This past Friday, they were greeted by stick figure graffiti in the parking lot, depicting Uncle Sam sexually assaulting Allah.
Then early Sunday morning, someone torched the children's playground behind the mosque.
"The children, when they saw this, they were horrified," said mosque president Jamal Qaddura. He said the message is clear to young and old alike.
"Unfortunately, they look at us as someone who doesn't belong here," Qaddura said.
Qaddura said whoever did this might also have tried to burn the mosque itself by pulling apart old gas lines, but the building no longer has gas service.
Arlington police and fire departments are investigating, as well as the FBI.
"Ironically on Friday, a supervisor of the FBI was here to address the community," Qaddura said, adding that he believes the damage may be linked to resentment over a planned Islamic community center near Ground Zero in Manhattan.
"I think it's related to igniting people's feelings and emotions and give people the wrong directions of Muslims and Islam," he said.
Islamic centers in other cities have been vandalized, and one in Florida fire-bombed. Qaddura says until now, worshipers at the south Arlington mosque have felt completely welcome, and have hosted numerous community events.
Arlington police have stepped up patrols around mosques in the city after vandalism and anti-Islam graffiti appeared at the south Arlington mosque.