WASHINGTON: A Hindu temple has been vandalised with hate message and swastika spray-painted on its wall in the US state of Washington, the latest incident that has shocked the community ahead of the Maha Shivaratri festival.
Also read: Why and How Maha Shivratri is Celebrated?
The incident happened when unidentified miscreants sprayed swastika and painted "Get Out" on one of the walls of the temple in the Seattle Metropolitan area. It is one of the largest Hindu temples in the entire North West.
The Snohomish County Sheriff's Department is investigating the Saturday's incident as malicious harassment. Yesterday top county officials visited the temple.
"This kind of thing should not happen in the US. Who are you telling to get out? This is a nation of immigrants," Nitya Niranjan, chairman of board of trustee of the Hindu Temple and Cultural Centre, Bothell, Washington told PTI.
Today the temple is celebrating Maha Shivaratri, a festival dedicated to Lord Shiva.
Niranjan said some kind of painting was sprayed on the outside wall of the temple a few years ago, but they did not bring it to the notice of the law enforcement authorities as nothing was written.
"We have no idea, who did it," Niranjan said.
Skyview Junior High, a block away, was also tagged with a swastika and the words, 'Muslims Get Out'.
While the temple has been there for nearly two decades, the construction on the second phase of the current building began recently.
The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) condemned the incident.
"The timing of this crime, occurring before a major Hindu festival, warrants special attention from law enforcement," said Jay Kansara, director of Government Relations, Hindu American Foundation.
"We are encouraged by the ongoing thorough investigation of the Bothell City Police Department. HAF will continue to engage through the local community with city, state, and federal officials until the perpetrator is brought to justice," Kansara said.
Of late there has been increasing incidents of vandalism of Hindu temples in the US including one in Loudoun County, Virginia and Monroe, Georgia last year.
As of January 1, 2015, the Department of Justice ordered all crime reporting forms to include the category anti-Hindu under the possible motives of hate crimes.
"Houses of worship are places where people should be able to be safe, at peace, and inspired to serve others," said Padma Kuppa, HAF board member.
"Instead, the vandalism of the Hindu temple in Seattle and the arson of a mosque in Houston this past weekend incite fear and result in distrust among communities," he said.