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Five teens charged with disrupting Muslim services

From Cassie Spodak, CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The teenage boys are accused of honking car horns, swearing
  • A mosque member was allegedly injured by one of the teens' cars
  • Further charges are being considered

New York (CNN) -- Five teenage boys were arrested Monday night on accusations of disturbing Muslim services in the small town of Carlton, New York.

The teens -- two 17-year-olds and three 18-year-olds -- were arrested after they allegedly drove by the World Sufi Foundation mosque in two cars during evening prayers, according to a news release from the Orleans County Sheriff's Office. The teens are accused of beeping their car horns and yelling obscenities during the service.

As the teens drove away, one car swerved and hit mosque member David Bell, authorities said. Bell suffered severe cuts on the mouth and hip, said Bilal Huzair, a board member of the World Sufi Foundation.

Multiple mosque members also heard a gunshot and could smell gunpowder after, Huzair said.

One of the teens is being held on $10,000 bail and has been charged with disruption of a religious service and criminal possession of a weapon. The four other teens were released after being charged with disrupting a religious service, said Orleans County District Attorney Joeseph Cardone.

The arrests were part of a string of 15 or 16 incidents in Carlton that have disrupted the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which began on August 11, Huzair said. The mosque is in a rural part of Orleans County.

Hate crime charges have not been filed, but Cardone said authorities are looking into further charges.

"Clearly what motivated them was their ignorance of the religious beliefs at the mosque, ignorance as to what it is that transpires there, and the people who attend," he said.

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