Police are investigating a hate crime after a man wrote a hateful message in the snow outside the Red Deer Islamic Centre on the weekend.

Red Deer RCMP said they responded to the incident at 7:30 a.m. Sunday after it was reported by someone with the Islamic Centre.

Investigators have determined that a single male suspect approached the stairs to the centre on Douglas Avenue and "wrote a hateful message in the snow," signing it with initials.

The message was written with a finger, a stick or something similar, Const. Derek Turner said in an interview.

"There was a racial slur scrawled into the snow by this gentleman, and it was toward the Islamic people here in Red Deer," Turner said. "I don't want to give any credence to what the actual wording was but it certainly constitutes a hate crime."

Turner said investigators took photographs of the scene, "certainly of the message and of any other evidence we might have been able to see there."

Other evidence may have included footprints, he said.

"We do take this type of crime very seriously," Turner said. "It is a targeted crime, a hate crime.

"The Islamic people in Red Deer are part of our community and it's our job to protect the members of our community. And we are looking for the public's assistance in determining who this person is so that we can speak to them and hopefully lay a charge in this case."

RCMP said the act is considered a hate crime — mischief to religious property.

The suspect was wearing a hoodie and ball cap under a jacket that may have been the Carhartt brand. He was also wearing light-coloured pants and dark running shoes.

Anyone with information is asked to call Red Deer RCMP or Crime Stoppers.