Two men charged with vandalizing the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro in the US state of Tennessee stood before the congregation Friday and apologized for their actions.
In September, a federal grand jury indicted Thomas Gibbs and Charles Stout III with committing a civil rights violation through damaging and defacing the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro on July 10, 2017.
Gibbs and Stout are scheduled to appear in court later this month.
“I just wanted to say how very, very sorry I am to all of you,” said Stout, whose parents and lawyer stood behind him while he spoke to the more than 200 ICM members following the weekly Friday prayer service that focused on the topic of forgiveness.
John Mack Green, lawyer for the ICM, said he believed Stout and Gibbs were “sincere and heartfelt” in their apologies.
“I know the congregation was very receptive today and the prayer service sermon on forgiveness was intentional … and I think meaningful for all involved,” Green said.
The two teens were caught on video surveillance placing bacon, a pork product forbidden by Islam, around an entrance and spray-painting graphic messages on the building’s exterior.
After the vandals finished speaking, Dr. Ahmad Abu-Halimah read the statement issued by the board.
“We recognize the Department of Justice will exercise its obligations and responsibilities as these crimes are prosecuted and we are deeply grateful,” Abu-Halimah read. “As to the men charged, we will forgive them for their behavior and we will wish for them a better and wiser future.”