Muslim family’s home vandalized, Quran torn and green cards stolen
A Muslim family returned from a weekend getaway to find their home vandalized.
Shoaib and Mahrukh – who asked to be identified by only their first names – and their two children were alarmed to find their Alexandria, Virginia apartment burglarized.
Their Quran was torn into pieces, anti-Muslim hate graffiti was written on the wall and valuables, ranging from their passports with green cards to computers and gold jewelry they had received as wedding gifts, had been stolen.
“We were in pure shock and disbelief,” Shoaib said. “I remember thinking ‘When am I going to wake up from this nightmare?'”
The family, who immigrated from Pakistan last year, had been visiting relatives in New York when they learned what had happened.
According to a Fairfax County Police Department report, a maintenance employee entered the apartment to do work while the family was away and found it in disarray.
It was broken into sometime between March 24 and March 27.
Shoaib does not believe they were targeted for their religion but, rather, because their apartment has no cameras surveilling it.
“I think that, only once they came in, they realized Muslims live here and decided to rub it in our faces,” he said.
The incident is under investigation as a burglary and bias-related incident.
Police are hopeful a number of tips they have received will pan out, said Officer Tawny Wright.
The same Fairfax police report includes another bias-related incident in the county on the same day, about 9 miles away, in which swastikas were spray painted inside a building and on trees.
After learning of the apartment incident, Rebecca Link, a Fairfax County native, decided to open a GoFundMe page on Shoaib and Mahrukh’s behalf.
“I couldn’t believe it. There has been so much hateful stuff in the news, and suddenly it hit home,” Link said.
The initiative raised over $3,000 in its first 24 hours, prompting Shoaib to express his gratitude.
“Yesterday, we felt extremely lonely and frightened, but seeing how quickly and overwhelming people of all backgrounds have come together to show support has restored our faith in America and in humanity more than ever,” he wrote on the page.
The family will not return to live in the ransacked apartment, because the notion someone went through their belongings there has left them with a “disturbing feeling,” Shoaib said.
However, he added they will look for another place in the same county, which they believe is safe and welcoming.
“It’s important not to let these kinds of things have an impact on you, because that’s when hatred wins,” Shoaib said. “We are not willing to let that happen. We are not running away.”