Two women were arrested Thursday for breaking into an Islamic centre in Arizona and filming themselves making anti-Islamic remarks, police said.
Tahnee Gonzales and Elizabeth Dauenhauer were arrested for third-degree burglary “after the investigation revealed they entered onto the property of the Tempe Islamic Centre and subsequently removed various items,” local police spokesman Ron Elcock said in a statement.
“Based on the details of the crime an enhancement of hate crime will be considered for sentencing,” he said.
The women posted several videos on Facebook showing them entering the centre, making insulting remarks about Muslims and encouraging their children to repeat them.
Ahmad Al-Akoum, the centre’s director of inter-faith relations and one of its imams, told AFP that the incident took place the morning of March 4, when no one else was present.
A local journalist saw the videos and alerted the mosque, whose leaders then checked their surveillance footage and saw the women taking copies of the Islamic holy book the Quran as well as leaflets, and tearing up documents affixed to a bulletin board.
Mosque officials then contacted police.
“They were teaching their children to be hateful, it was very disturbing,” Al-Akoum said of the women.
He said that his mosque and others around Phoenix have regularly been subjected to harassment “for a long time, almost since 2001,” referring to the year of the September 11 attacks.
But things have gotten worst since Donald Trump – who made trying to keep travelers from certain Muslim-majority countries out of the US a central part of his agenda – took office last year.