Police in New York are investigating whether or not a painting of the resurrected Jesus Christ found on a fence near a mosque in Nassau County is a hate crime.
According to WPIX-TV, an employee with the Hillside Islamic Center in New Hyde Park discovered the painting hanging on a fence outside the mosque last Friday. That employee then reported the incident to police.
The painting shows a silhouetted Jesus Christ hanging on a cross with the crown of thorns adorning the top of the cross.
Police are investigating the crime as a “bias incident,” despite the fact that mosque leaders said they don’t find Jesus to be offensive. In Islamic tradition, Jesus is a prophet, though not as significant as Muhammad.
Where Islam and Christianity differ is that the entire Christian faith hinges on Jesus’ claim to be the divine son of man, whereas Islam doesn’t believe Jesus is divine, nor do they believe that he was crucified and later resurrected. Instead, traditional Islam teaches that Jesus was the precursor to Muhammad and was sent before Muhammad with the gospel to instruct the children of Israel how to live.
Muslims generally believe that Jesus was raised to heaven while still alive. The religion also refers to Jesus as a messiah, just like Christianity.
"As a Muslim, I love Jesus. We are told to love Jesus. He actually is a prophet of ours. And a lot of people don't know this but he's also our messiah,” Eydid Ali, a member of the mosque, told WPIX.
The New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations also released a statement in the wake of the incident, saying it can be used as a “teaching moment."
"Bias may have motivated this incident, but it could serve as a teaching moment for the perpetrator and for the community if it leads to greater understanding of the love Muslims have for Jesus, peace be upon him,” CAIR said, according to WCBS-TV.
Police say they have surveillance footage of a man placing the painting on the fence but haven’t yet identified the person in the video.