Police on Long Island are investigating after someone hung a large painting of Jesus Christ on a fence at a mosque early Friday evening.
Investigators are treating the incident as a hate crime, reports NBC New York.
The painting is a crucifixion scene showing a largely silhouetted Jesus with his crown of thorns prominently featured. It appeared outside the Hillside Islamic Center in Nassau County, according to investigators.
An employee of the Hillside Islamic Center initially discovered the Jesus painting, reports CBS New York.
Surveillance camera captured video of a man placing the image on the fence, police say.
Mosque leaders told police that they are not offended by the imagery of Jesus Christ, according to News 12 Long Island.
This lack of offense has not stopped investigators from labeling the incident as a potential hate crime.
The New York branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), America’s largest Muslim civil rights group, issued a statement urging the person or group behind the painting to learn more about Muslim beliefs.
“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,” the CAIR statement said.
CAIR lists a handful of verses from the Quran which, CAIR says, demonstrate “the spiritual unity of the Abrahamic faiths.”
“The spiritual legacy of Jesus (peace be upon him) should be a unifying factor for Muslims and Christians, not a source of division or bigotry,” CAIR urged in the statement.
In 2009, CAIR was listed by the U.S. government as an unindicted co-conspirator in a scheme that provided funding to the terror group Hamas.