W0ashington, Jan 31: A Hindu temple has been vandalized in the US state of Kentucky, with officials calling the incident as “hate crime”.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said vandals broke windows at Swaminarayan Temple, located in the state capital’s Bardstown Road, and wrote hateful words on temple walls, reports Courier Journal newspaper.
Fischer said that between Sunday evening and Tuesday morning, the vandals broke in and spray-painted “repugnant messages of hate” in the temple.
In an upstairs room, profane messages were spray-painted on the walls along with several black crosses. Phrases including “Jesus is all mighty”, “Jesus is Lord” and “God” were also sprayed in black paint on the walls.
Near an entrance to the temple, a window had been broken, a picture was partially sprayed with black paint and “Jesus is the Only God” and a black cross were sprayed next to a staircase.
A knife was also left on a chair in the temple, according to Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad. He called the vandalism “a hate crime”.
He said “too many incidents like this” had taken place in Louisville, referring to a past vandalism incident at the Louisville Islamic Centre and heightened safety concerns at a local Sikh temple following a deadly temple shooting in Wisconsin in 2012.
“The desecration of this temple is heartbreaking,” Conrad said, adding, “I want the people of this temple to know that we will stand with them. We will do our best to keep them safe and we will do what we need to do to make Louisville a safer city.”
Raj Patel, a spokesman for the temple, said no members were inside when the vandalism happened. The temple has been located at its current address for about five years and usually attracts 60 to 100 people for Sunday worship.
Conrad said the police would be at the temple on Sunday to make sure the community was safe.