When life hands you lemons, don’t use them to interfere with civil rights. Hopefully that’s the lesson learned by four teenage boys in Hayward, Calif., arrested on suspicion of tossing lemons and oranges at mosque during prayer time. The teens, aged 13 to 16, were arrested on suspicion of defacing property “interfering with the civil rights of those attending the mosque.” According to authorities, the charge levied against the the teens is considered a hate crime.
Hayward Police Lt. Roger Keener said there were about 40 attendees at the American Muslim Association on Saturday when the suspects threw the fruit and fled. Several congregants chased the boys and cornered them until police arrived. At least one person was hit in the arm during the incident, Mercury News reports.
There are many places of worship on Gading road where the mosque is located, including a large Seventh Day Adventist center next door, but only the mosque was targeted by the alleged vandals. According to Keener, this is not the first time the mosque has been targeted. ”We’ve had an ongoing issue of local juveniles harassing some of the mosque’s attendees during prayer time,” said Keener. Mohammed Khan, President of the American Muslim Association, described the various harassment the congregation has endured to ABC 7 news. ”As soon as we start our prayers, they start throwing things at us. They come and pick up our shoes and take our shoes away…They have shot BB guns at us. They have thrown eggs at our windows.” The incident occurred during the holy month of Ramadan, during which Muslims fast during daylight hours.