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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (AP) — Police are investigating after vandals scrawled the words "hunt camp?" across the front of the Islamic Center of Twin Falls.
The words were painted on plywood boards that are covering windows of the still-being-built center, The Times-News reports (http://bit.ly/21MbJlx). They were discovered Saturday night.
Islamic Center spokesman Imad Eujayl said it is unclear what hunt camp means, but it is clearly disparaging.
"We think it is from an ill-informed person," Eujayl said. "Hunt Camp can be interpreted in many different ways. It could be referring to the camps that happened after (World War II) or whatever. I don't have any specific interpretation, I don't know what the person meant, but it is not good intentions."
After Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, the U.S. government took some 13,000 Americans of Japanese descent and moved them to an internment camp seven miles north of Eden known as the Hunt Camp. More than 115,000 Americans of Japanese descent were sent to 10 camps in California, Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah and Arkansas.
This is the second time the Islamic Center of Twin Falls has been vandalized. In 2011, shortly before the 10th anniversary of 9/11, someone spray-painted a swastika on the building.
Police Lt. Terry Thueson said the department is taking an aggressive approach to the investigation and is treating the incident as a felony.
"We take crimes of this nature very seriously," Thueson said. "Our department will not tolerate malicious harassment and hate crimes."
Eujayl said the words have been painted over and many have come to show support to the Muslim community in Twin Falls. Someone left a red poinsettia plant on the building after the words were painted over. He said the recent violent attacks in Paris and San Bernardino may have triggered the vandalism.
"We got great support from many, many people. This does not reflect the majority of the community," Eujayl said. "We understand that a few people can do this or one ill-informed person. We think the incident in California triggered someone to paint all the Muslim community with the same brush."
Information from: The Times-News, http://www.magicvalley.com
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