Police in Evanston, Illinois are investigating a series of defaced copies of the Quran, as well as books about the Quran at the Evanston Public Library, the Chicago Tribune reports.
Librarians reportedly found homophobic slurs, swastikas, and other messages in the books while preparing to host an event that was focused on the Quran.
A Facebook user named Lorena Neal shared a photo of one of the books in a post on Facebook, writing, "When I opened one of [the books], I found this. When the other librarians and I checked the section, we found several others that had also been defaced with swastikas and racial slurs."
"They were not like this a week ago, when one of the other librarians was showing a Muslim gentleman our collection on this subject," Neal continued. "Evanstonians like to think we are safe in a bubble of tolerance, but none of us can afford to pretend that we are not affected by the hatred that surrounds us now."
Neal ended the Facebook post with a call to fellow residents of the town just north of Chicago. "None of us can afford to sit this out, to hope it goes away, and leaves us untouched. Whatever your politics, if this kind of hatred and intolerance disgusts you, speak out today."
The Facebook message included a photo of the defaced Quran, which included a drawing of a swastika and a penciled note that read, "Bullsh*t hatred cover to cover."
Evanston Public Library director Karen Danczak Lyons said on Tuesday, "We will prosecute. If we catch you, we will prosecute."
Lyons added, "It's deeply troubling to me that someone, rather than come and listen to other points of view, would rather deface public property and come and spread these hateful messages that they wrote."