Burnt Quran found outside Tenderloin mosque

Police are investigating the discovery of a burnt Quran outside a Tenderloin mosque.

Workers discovered the charred holy book on Sept. 12 inside an emptied trash bin that was on the sidewalk outside the Islamic Society of San Francisco, according to the center’s administrator, Khaled Olaibah. 

The Bay Area chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations is condemning the act as a hate crime and notified San Francisco police Tuesday after Olaibah contacted the group.

Police spokesman Officer Albie Esparza confirmed that police are investigating the incident but did not release any further information.

Police took the remnants of the book and are reviewing the surveillance footage outside the mosque, which also serves as a community center, a banquet hall and wedding venue, Olaibah said. The center has been at 20 Jones St. for about 15 years and serves at least 800 people, he added.

Burnings of the Muslim holy book have been reported across the nation around the anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks. A Florida pastor’s call to burn Qurans led to international outrage, and the planned construction of an Islamic center near the former World Trade Center set off a fury of protest.

But this is the first incident to occur in the perceived tolerance of San Francisco and the Bay Area, according to outreach director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Zahra Billoo.

“It’s the first incident we’ve seen in the Bay Area, and we want to make sure it’s the last,” she said Saturday. 

Olaibah was “disturbed” by the discovery and believes it was fueled by ignorance.

“Peace is very important to us,” he said of Muslims. “Only people that don’t read and don’t know would think this is a violent religion.”

bbegin@sfexaminer.com

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