CHICAGO -- Chicago police are investigating the discovery of a burned copy of the Quran found outside the Muslim Community Center in Chicago to determine if the book was damaged in a hate crime.
Some youths found the burned book on a sidewalk outside the community center on Sunday, a day after the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, according to police and the center's officials.
The teens were on their way to the center for a prayer session, said Mohammed Kaiseruddin, who is on the community center's board of directors. He said the youths quietly brought it into the building and turned it in.
"We feel like we've been victimized, that's for sure," Kaiseruddin said. "When we handle the Quran ourselves ... we treat it with the utmost respect. We never put a copy of the Quran down on the floor.
"From childhood, we tell children this is a book of respect and once they're finished reading they close the book and kiss it, and put it away," he said.
Kaiseruddin, who has been affiliated with the community center for more than 30 years, said he believes the burned copy did not belong to the center. He said he doesn't recall an instance when someone has desecrated one of the center's copies of the book.
Kaiseruddin believes the burning of the holy book may have stemmed from a widely publicized announcement made by an Evangelist pastor from Gainesville, Fla., that he would burn copies of the Quran to mark Saturday's anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The pastor, the Rev. Terry Jones, of the Dove World Outreach Center, later canceled those plans.
Kaiseruddin said incidents like these may cause some Muslims to get emotional, but he wants those affiliated with the community center to carry on a "low-key" and "business-as-usual" attitude.
Police said no one was in custody for the incident.