Parents say Bellevue Islamic school vandalism was hate crime

BELLEVUE, Wash. -- Parents at a Bellevue school fear their kids may have been the targets of a hate crime.

Those who dropped their kids off Medina Academy -- a private Islamic school -- were upset Monday by the graffiti left on a school wall over the weekend.

It was the second time in less than two months that vandals targeted the school, and parents say it's not so much the words that frighten them, but the intent of the graffiti.

"I feel this is a hate crime," said parent Faiza Sultan.

The graffiti, some of which is written in Arabic font, stretches the length of a second grade portable building. The message says, "It's rude to cover art." Parents say they recognize the tag from the last incident.

"The first one was, 'Freedom has been chained,'" said parent Zeina Askar.

School workers quickly covered the spray paint. Bellevue police say the wording alone doesn't make the vandalism a hate crime, but officers will continue to investigate and say it could become a hate crime if people feel threatened and singled out.

"It's written on an Islamic school," Askar said. "Any other locations could have been vandalized, but they chose this location."

The combination of vandalism, school shootings and post-9/11 death treats has the community on edge.

"I feel that my kids are not safe. (It's the) worst feeling any parents can get," Sultan said. "We feel the message is, 'You're not welcome here.'"

The school just opened in September, and the first incident prompted officials to install security cameras.

"This weekend we had just installed our security cameras, finally, and then this came up," said principal Robert Monde.

Even if the culprit isn't captured on camera, local moms insist they won't be chased away from from their school.

"We want to make sure this is not a threat to say, 'We're going to come after you,'" Askar said. "We don't want to be a target. I hope that's not a target sign right there."

Parents have alerted the FBI and the school is also seeking permission from the city of Bellevue to put a fence around the property.