02:51 GMT +322 September 2019
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    Criminals spray painted the Islamic phrase “Allahu Akbar” and drew a swastika on the storage unit of the New Shiloh Christian Church in Melbourne, Florida.

    “Allahu Akbar" and Swastika Left on Florida Church Wall

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    A Florida church is tightening security after vandals started a small fire, wrote an Islamic phrase and drew a Nazi symbol on a wall.

    Criminals spray painted the Islamic phrase “Allahu Akbar” and drew a swastika on the storage unit of the New Shiloh Christian Church in Melbourne.

    The hate messages were discovered after firefighters battled a blaze inside the storage unit connected to the building on Monday.

    “That was the first thing that I saw was the Nazi sign, and I was heartbroken to see that because to me that represents hatred,” Bishop Jaquelin Morgon told WKMG TV.

    Melbourne police say the fire was arson and told church officials “it’s a hate crime,” but they refuse to say that publicly, saying they “do not want to alarm people,” reported WKMG TV.

    "To find something like that in 2015 is unbelievable. It's just disheartening," said Gordon. "They told us that this is definitely a hate crime and that they're going to patrol our area even more and just look out for us and they thought it was senseless and I feel the same way."

    Police say they are investigating the fire and vandalism as “arson and criminal mischief.”

    "I would just say that everything is being looked at. All avenues are going to be explored. If it meets that criteria, that would be something that would be looked at," said Lt. Cheryl Trainer.

    This is the second attack on the Central Florida church in two weeks, with the latest causing about $5,000 in damages.

    Until suspects are caught, the church plans to step up its own security.



    New Shiloh Christian Church, Lt. Cheryl Trainer, Jaquelin Morgon, Melbourne, FL
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