CAIRO - A terrified Muslim family have been forced to leave their home in the south-central US state of Oklahoma after falling victim to a drive-by shooting, believing that they were targeted because of their faith.
Our concern is the family's safety, Adam Soltani, executive director of the Oklahoma chapter on the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), told News Oklahoma.
If this is a bias crime ... it's concerning to us that anyone would be targeted because they are Muslim, he said, calling for the police to investigate the attack as a hate crime.
The Muslim family came under a shooting attack on Thursday from a car driving south at their home.
Allie Taghavi, the father who was home with three of his adult children, ran from his bedroom into his 23-year-old daughter's room where a bullet had come through the east side of their house, piercing a wall a few feet away from where she was sitting at her computer desk.
Seconds later, shots were fired into the bedroom just to the south where Taghavi had been.
One bullet crossed the width of his bedroom and passed into a bathroom where it lodged in the wall.
No one was injured in the incident. Yet, the Muslim family fled their home after police cleared the scene a few hours later.
I screamed when I heard the shots, but it was so rapid ... like firecrackers, the terrified father said.
Police found about 10 shell casings from at least two different guns Thursday night.
Several more casings were found around the house Friday during the daylight hours.
Feeling save in their Capitol Hill neighborhood for 23 years, Maryam Taghavi, Allie's wife, believes the attack was a hate crime.
She was referring to a case two days earlier when a stranger asked their 21-year-old son about their faith and knew they were Muslims.
It couldn't be a coincidence, Maryam said.
This is just wrong to me, and I can't wrap my head around it.
A large sign hung on the porch and visible from the road said, as-salamu alaykum, an Arabic phrase often used by Muslims meaning peace be with you.
US Muslims, estimated at between seven to eight million, have been sensing hostility in recent months.
A recent report by CAIR, the University of California and Berkeley's Center for Race and Gender found that Islamophobia in the US is on the rise.
Anti-Muslim hate crimes jumped from around 36 in 2000 to 481 in 2001, according to FBI data.
The numbers largely have stayed between around 100 and 160 in subsequent years, with 157 reported in 2011 in the state, the most recent year for which data is available.
A US survey had also revealed that the majority of Americans know very little about Muslims and their faith.A recent Gallup poll had found that 43 percent of Americans Nationwide admitted to feeling at least a little prejudice against Muslims.