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Family staying positive after swastika, vulgar message painted on home

A swastika and a racial profanity were sprayed on a family's home in a small Ohio town.
The original message read "(expletive) Arabs" with a swastika between the words. (Source: WTOL)

SYLVANIA TOWNSHIP, OH (WTOL) - A swastika and a racial profanity were sprayed on a family's home in a small Ohio town.

When the Sylvania Township family came home Tuesday evening after a short errand, they saw the hateful words and symbol spray painted on the home they've lived in for years. And now they are frightened for their safety.

"Our home was violated - This place, where our father lived and where he died. It was violated," said a family member, who wished not to be identified.

According to police, the residents called police to the home around 8:15 p.m. when they saw the message. The door had an explicit word (blurred in our photos) painted on the top with "Arabs" on the bottom. The swastika was painted between the two words.

The family says they had heard about racial hate crimes and slurs in other areas but never imagined it would happen to them.

"We've never hurt anyone; we're all American born," the family member said. "We've never held any animosity toward this country. My father was a patriot; Dad loved this country."

The family has lived in this area for decades and the specific neighborhood since 1999. They are shocked and were tearful but say they will not let this make them angry or hateful in response.

"It's easy to jump to this idea that everybody's bad," the family member said. "But that would just be doing what everyone else does. You see a couple Muslims or Arabs who've done wrong, and you paint everyone with the same brush. We can't stoop to that; we can't be those people."

The family told WTOL 11 that neighbors, friends and even teachers from the kids' high school, offered to help paint over the graffiti Thursday with positive messages.

The Cleveland chapter of Council of Arab-Islamic Relations, Executive Director Julia Shearson issued a statement Wednesday:

"We call on state and local religious and political leaders - including the Township Administrator - to condemn this incident in the strongest possible terms in order to reassure all diverse communities that hate-motivated attacks and vandalism are not welcome in our state or community. We call on those community leaders to come together to host events that build bridges of understanding, mutual respect and tolerance in order to counter such hateful acts. We call on local, state and federal law enforcement authorities to thoroughly investigate this incident in order to identify and apprehend the alleged perpetrators."

The president of the United Muslim Association of Toledo (UMAT) also released a statement:

"The local Muslim community is extremely disappointed at the recent act of vandalism and hatred in our compassionate city. We strongly condemn such acts of hatred, violence, and bigotry. We believe in mutual respect and coexistence. These acts only cause more harm and benefits none. We have a long history of peaceful and respectful coexistence in this town and will not let anyone destroy this. We call on law enforcement authorities to thoroughly investigate this act, register this as a hate crime, and to protect our constitutional religious rights."

- S.Maseeh Rehman MD, President

Friends and neighbors poured out support after the family posted the picture on Facebook.

The family eventually took the post down when people got political. The family still says they will respond with love and not hate.

The family also has a message to the perpetrator of the crime.

"If you would have knocked on the door, I would have invited them in and we could have talked it over. I don't feel like my [family] has ever done anything to deserve anything like this. So I would say I'm sorry for whatever you went through."

Police are investigating and do not have any suspects.

Anyone with information should call the Sylvania Township Police at 419-882-2055.