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NY: Teens held for harassing Muslims

September 01, 2010 15:56 IST

A group of teenagers in western New York has been arrested for allegedly harassing worshipers and firing a shotgun outside a mosque.

The five teens allegedly beeped their car horns and yelled obscenities during a religious service, according to Eyewitness News, a local media outlet.

Tim Weader, 17, Dylan Phillips, 18, Jeff Donahue, 18, and Anthony Ogden, 18 along with Mark Vendetti, 17 have been charged with disrupting a religious service, which is a misdemeanor charge.

Vendetti, who has been charged with firing shots at the mosque, was also arraigned on the weapons charge and remanded to the Orleans County Jail in lieu of $10,000 bail. Police say the incident remains under investigation and more charges are expected to be filed, according to Eyewitness News.

Worshipers said that they have been plagued by harassment for years, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations based in Washington, DC, called for the teens to be charged with hate-crime.

"Anti-Muslim bigots must learn that they will face hate-crime enhancements to their charges if they perpetrate such unconscionable criminal acts," Ibrahim Cooper, the organisation's spokesperson, said in a statement.

In another incident, last week, a drunken man entered a Queen's mosque in New York City and urinated on the prayer rugs. He was shouting anti-Muslim slurs, and has been charged with criminal trespass.

This was preceded by an incident involving 21-year-old film student Michael Enright who stabbed 43-year-old Ahmed Sharif from Queens, after asking him "are you Muslim," according to NYC cops.

The incident occurred in Manhattan at a time when the majority of Americans are opposing the building of a proposed Islamic Center near the World Trade Center. He has been indicted on charges of second-degree attempted murder and first-degree assault as hate crimes.

The latest poll suggests that hat the majority of New Yorkers want the developers of the Islamic Centre to voluntarily move it away from Ground Zero.

"Overwhelmingly, across all party and regional lines, New Yorkers say the sponsors ought to voluntarily move the proposed mosque to another location," said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

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