US Customs and Border Protection has confiscated a set of religious tiles at Dulles International Airport, claiming they were deemed to violate sanctions on Iran.

Iran PressAmerica: The founder of Islamic Center and Manassas Mosque, northern Virginia, Abolfazl Nahidian, at a news conference Tuesday, said that the custom-made tiles were shipped in June from the Iranian city of Qom, to be used in the construction of a new mosque a few miles away.

The tiles were confiscated at Dulles International Airport after they were deemed to violate sanctions on Iran.

He said the tiles were a gift and he paid no money for them, but a Customs and Border Protection officer at the airport blocked the mosque from claiming the tiles, citing the sanctions.

Nahidian said he has received other tile shipments throughout the years without incident, including one shipment that arrived eight months ago.

A letter from Customs and Border Protection informed the mosque that the tile must be shipped back to Iran or destroyed.

Destroying the tiles, which are adorned with Quranic verses, would be especially disturbing, Nahidian said.

“Destroying the tiles is the same as destroying verses of the Quran, or the whole Quran itself,” he said.

Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said that whatever one's views are of the Iranian sanctions, it makes no sense to enforce the rules on a benign piece of religious art.

“They are not weapons of mass destruction,” Awad said. “We believe the government should have common sense.”

A spokesperson for Customs and Border Protection confirmed that the tiles were placed on hold on June 21 and that on June 30, the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Asset Control determined that, under the sanctions imposed on Iran, the tiles could not be imported. The spokesperson said no final determination has been made on the tiles' disposition.

The Treasury Department did not respond to emails seeking comment Tuesday.

Speakers at Tuesday's news conference suggested that anti-Islam sentiment may be responsible for the confiscation.

“If this were a statue of the Virgin Mary, would we be here discussing this?” asked Rafi Uddin Ahmed, president of the Muslim Association of Virginia.

Nahidian has led the mosque for nearly three decades.