UPPER DARBY, Pa. (CBS) — Police are searching for a man accused of posting anti-Muslim signs around a mosque in Upper Darby.
The signs were misspelled and barely legible, but the messages behind them can only be described as hateful and anti-Muslim.
Police in Upper Darby have released surveillance video of the disturbed man seen planting the signs at the Masjid Al-Madinah mosque at 69th and Walnut Streets, just after 5 a.m. on Monday. Several clear images were captured by mosque security cameras.
“It’s a hate crime, it’s a terrorist attack, and it’s certainly threatening to put people in fear. I don’t have any problem charging him up,” said Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood.
Police also found burned items at the scene as well near the education center at the mosque.
Police believe the man who left the signs is mentally disturbed and they want him off the streets.
Members of the mosque gathered at this police briefing to voice their concerns.
“We are careful. I’m taking precautions to protect our community, because we live in this community for so many years and there’s no issues or concerns with the neighbors, so these kind of people need to be stopped,” said Kamal Rahman, the mosque’s president.
Upper Darby has a large Muslim population with about 3,000 people within the community. While this is an isolated incident for this mosque, those with the Council on American-Islamic Relations say anti-Muslim hate crimes are on the rise around the country.
“FBI statistics report that going back to 2015 and 2016 there’s a 20 percent increase in anti-Muslim hate,” said Ahmet Selim Tekelioglu.
The mosque just moved to the location at 201 South 69th Street three years ago and officials say they’ve never had any problems before in that community, but they have added more cameras to ensure everyone’s safety.
Police say the suspect has been seen wearing a red aviator-type hat and a NASA jacket.
Anyone with information about the suspect is asked to call Upper Darby police at 610-734-7693.