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Police Investigate Jesus Painting as a ‘Hate Crime’

Gage Cohen
By Gage Cohen | July 10, 2017 | 3:43 PM EDT

A "Hate Crime"?

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to reflect a change in NBC's reporting, in which the term "hate crime" was replaced with "bias incident." 

On Friday, a painting of Jesus Christ hanging on the cross was left on a fence outside the Hillside Islamic Center in Long Island, New York. Now, the Nassau County Police Dept. is investigating the incident as a “hate crime.”

“A worker there had found this large painting of Christ on a cross on the property,” reported an anchor for NBC 4. “The anti-Muslim message was found hanging from a fence, deemed to be so obviously because it was a mosque.”

“Nassau County police said they are investigating the incident as a possible hate crime.”

The “anti-Muslim message,” as the NBC 4 anchor labeled it, was a green and white painting of Jesus’ silhouette hanging on the cross.

The man who hung the painting on the outside of the Islamic Center’s fence and left was caught on camera. The police department instructed anyone in the community with additional knowledge of the incident to contact a 1-800 tips number.

“Members of this North New Hyde mosque feel someone tried to attack their religion Friday,” said a reporter for News 12 Long Island. “The reaction was kind of surprised, that in this community, we’ve been here since 2002, this is the first time it has happened,” said a member of the Hillsdale Mosque.

Another member of the congregation said that, although Jesus is considered a prophet in Islam, “that’s not what he meant” when the man hung the painting on the center’s fence:

“He meant something else, you know. We don’t believe in image. We don’t have image for Jesus, you know. We don’t have image for Muhammad.”

News 12 Long Island finished its coverage of the story by reporting that the Islamic Center will host an “interfaith barbeque” on July 21 in “hopes of building trust and understanding in the community” and urging viewers to call the tip hotline if they have any more information.