An Arkansas mosque has paid off the fine of a young man who vandalized their building so he would avoid a lengthy prison sentence, according to The New York Times.
Abraham Davis, along with two friends, spray painted a swastika along with the words “go home” over the front of the Masjid Al Salam mosque in Fort Smith while in a drunken stupor in October 2016. He was caught on camera by CCTV and arrested.
Davis, struck with remorse, sent two apology letters, one to his mother and another to the mosque. Incredibly, the mosque forgave him and even lobbied on his behalf at his trial. The court still sentenced him to community service, plus a fine of $3,200.
But without steady work, Davis struggled to make the monthly payments. If he failed to make them, he faced six years in prison.
That’s when the mosque stepped in. “It shouldn’t be hanging over him for the rest of his life,” President of Al Salam Louay Nassri said. “We knew this person did a bad thing and there has to be consequences for their actions. But we didn’t have any ill feelings towards anybody.”
The mosque wrote him a cheque for $1,700, the remainder of the fine.
Davis was stunned by the kindness of the mosque and is now working on turning his life around. He has gone back to high school to finish his GED and works at a gas station.
“It’s a great weight being lifted off of my shoulders,” he told The New York Times, looking at the floor. “And I don’t deserve it, but this act of kindness, it’s just, wow.”
Nassri is sure that education could have prevented the incident from ever happening. “If he would’ve known who we are, he wouldn’t of done this,” Nassri said. “If we would’ve known his troubles with us, we would’ve tried to help him. Communication is extremely important. Education is extremely important.”