ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) — A highway sign dedicated to a local Muslim community in Round Rock was vandalized over the weekend. The sign is a symbol of the community’s commitment to keeping Texas highways clean.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has been cleaning the stretch of FM 1460 in the greater Round Rock area for the last six years. Members of the community say this is the first time they’ve ever experienced any sort of negative attitude towards their religious community.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is one of three Muslim service groups in the area.
Last Sunday, community members spotted the sign spray-painted over in black to remove the words “Ahmadiyya Muslim” and instead, a handwritten note that says “A Christian Community, USA” was stuck underneath.
KXAN News spoke with outreach coordinator Muhammad Ahmad, who’s lived in the Round Rock area since 2007. He says he’s surprised to see the vandalism.
“We have never experienced any vandalism at this site or at the mosque at all in the recent past,” said Muhammad Ahmad, Outreach Coordinator for Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Center. “Anybody who wants to come talk to us about Islam– their understanding and any misunderstandings they have, we urge them to come clear it up. We are always open door. We even invite the person who did this to come talk to us.”
According to Ahmad, members of the community have reported this incident to Williamson County Police, who have decided to leave the vandalism in place for now. TxDOT aims to remove the spray-paint in the future.
In response to this incident, members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community will be cleaning this stretch of highway Saturday at 10 a.m..
Williamson County Sheriff’s Office deputies are investigating a case of vandalism Tuesday after a service sign in the name of a local Muslim community was defaced. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Round Rock adopted a portion of FM 1460 near Old Settlers Blvd. and had a sign put up with their name on it.
On Saturday, a member of the community noticed their name had been blacked out with spray paint and a sign had been taped below it.
The handwritten sign said “A Christian Community U.S.A.”
Muhammad Ahmad, a member of the community, said the group contacted the Texas Department of Transportation and law enforcement about the issue.
We actually would love for whoever left this note to come talk to us, speak to us, we’re open and maybe start a dialogue because maybe that dialogue will lead to less of a misunderstanding and maybe they won’t mistrust and you know feel the same way they felt when they actually did this.
Ahmad said since the community moved its mosque into a neighborhood off Deepwood Drive in Round Rock the members have tried to get involved with the surrounding neighbors and communities.
Yasir Mirza, another member of the community, said the mosque had had other incidents but nothing compared to the recent sign incident. Mirza said:
Once we had a Christmas tree at our door with bacon strips on it, so stuff like that… At first neighborhood residents had been concerned that the Muslim center was moving into the area but has welcomed them over the years. It’s sad that somebody would do that, but just like we don’t want to be judged by acts of some Muslims, or people who claim to be Muslims, in the Middle East like ISIS or al-Qaeda, we don’t want to be judged like them similarly so we won’t judge the people of Round Rock or Austin area just by the act of a person who did this.
By Rachel Cox