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Salon.com: Eight attacks, 11 days

The remains of the Islamic Society of Joplin mosque (Credit: Islamic Society of Joplin/Facebook)

The remains of the Islamic Society of Joplin mosque (Credit: Islamic Society of Joplin/Facebook)

If events continue like this we are sure to see more such attacks in the future, as the anti-Muslim ideology shows no sign of abating in the USA or Europe.:

Eight attacks, 11 days

BY 

There’s a crime wave targeting houses of worship, most of them Muslim. Is something sinister at work?

David Conrad, a resident of Morton Grove, Ill., was likely peeved by the noise from the Muslim Education Center. Conrad’s home is adjacent to the center’s parking lot, and during the holy month of Ramadan, men, women and children pack the mosque on a nightly basis. On Friday, Aug. 10, Conrad allegedly shot a pellet rifle at the mosque wall, while some 500 people were praying inside. The building structure sustained minor damage, but no one was hurt. Was this just the rumbling of a disgruntled neighbor? Maybe.

But given a chain of incidents at mosques across the country over the past two weeks, the Morton Grove shooting doesn’t appear to be an isolated event. In the past 10 days, there have been eight cases of vandalism and attacks on houses of worship across the nation, including the deadly shooting spree in a Sikh gurdwara in Wisconsin on Aug. 5. The other seven incidents were mosque defacements, which have sent a tremor of fear through America’s Muslim community.

While Morton Grove Police have not charged Conrad with a hate crime, the FBI is currently investigating the attack as a hate crime and CAIR has also called on the FBI to investigate the Lombard incident as such. Just 25 miles from Morton Grove, an Islamic school in Lombard was targeted with an even more chilling assault on Sunday night. An assailant flung a homemade “MacGyver bomb” at the building, while worshippers prayed inside. The soda bottle — filled with household chemicals, including acid — did not break the window, and again, the worshipers were rattled but unharmed. According to local reports, no one has yet been charged, and the FBI is investigating the matter.

The Illinois attacks come on the heels of an incident in Joplin, Mo., where a mosque was reduced to ashes by a powerful fire last Monday. Although authorities are investigating whether it was an act of arson, a previous fire at the mosque over the July 4 weekend was determined to be arson. Elsewhere, a mosque in North Smithfield, R.I., was vandalized by a man who “head-butted” and pulled down signage. Teens were arrested on hate crime charges for taunting worshipers by throwing eggs and  oranges and shooting bb pellets at a mosque in Hayward, Calif. Vandals defaced the Grand Mosque of Oklahoma City with paintballs, and, in an especially malicious incident, women hurled pig legs at a mosque site in Ontario, Calif., while people were leaving the temporary prayer space.

Is something deeper at work here? Last week, notoriously brusque Rep. Joe Walsh, R-Ill., who represents Lombard, may have helped stoke anti-Muslim hatred with comments at a town hall meeting in Elk Grove. Walsh sowed the seeds of mistrust and suspicion by alleging that “radical Islam” had made a home in the suburbs of Chicago; that “Islam is not the peaceful, loving religion we hear about”; and that radical Muslims are “trying to kill Americans every week.” Walsh’s warnings were met with applause.

Many Muslims in Chicago spoke out to condemn Walsh’s comments. “How long are we going to go pretending like there is no relationship between this acquiescence of hatred and politics and the inclination of violence on the ground?” asked Ahmed Rehab, executive director of the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago). “You cannot demonize a community and then be surprised when they’re under attack.”

Walsh’s political ploy, fiery as it was, echoes past comments made by the likes of Michele Bachmann and Peter King, elected officials who have long spouted thinly veiled Islamophobia in the public sphere. “We’ve seen in the last few years, particularly after the manufactured controversy over the Park51 Islamic community center, there has been a steady rise in anti-Muslim sentiment in our society. It is promoted and exploited by the cottage industry of Muslim bashers,” said Ibrahim Hooper, national communications director at CAIR. “We are seeing the byproduct of that campaign of Islamophobia in these attacks on mosques and perhaps even on the attack on the Sikh gurdwara in Wisconsin.”

Some of the attacked Islamic centers are no strangers to hostility. Despite attaining necessary permits, Al- Nur Islamic Center in Ontario faced opposition from locals in its plans to build a permanent structure, much like mosques in Temecula, Calif., and Murfeesboro, Tenn. The pig legs gesture, however, escalated the resistance. “There is a palpable fear and concern amongst many members of the community because people are taking their opposition to the mosque to another level,” said Faisal Qazi, a member of the Al-Nur mosque. “Joplin was attacked before, and the Ontario community’s biggest fear is that if this sort of harassment continues, something worse may happen.”

According to FBI data, hate crimes against Muslims might be rising. The rate of anti-Muslim crimes fell from nearly 500 in 2001 to 107 in 2009. But in 2010 (the latest year for which the FBI has data) the total  number of hate crimes jumped 50 percent to 160. In light of these recent episodes, CAIR has issued a safety advisory for Islamic centers that includes calling for mosque leadership to remain extra vigilant and requesting that local law enforcement increase patrol at mosques to ensure the safety of the worshipers.

Even so, a cloud of trepidation and panic has settled upon many Muslim communities. Mosque leaders around the country are gearing up for the 27th night of Ramadan tonight, the holiest night of the month, when Muslims swarm mosques in record numbers. Judge Marguerite Quinn of Morton Grove, understanding the gravity of this time of year for Muslims, told David Conrad, “This is the holy month of Ramadan, and it will not be because of your actions that these services be disturbed.”

Uzma Kolsy is an activist and freelance writer based in Southern California. She is the former Managing Editor of InFocus News, the largest newspaper in California serving the Muslim American community. MORE UZMA KOLSY.

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  • Michael Elwood

    “One thing that is ironic, one of these Muslims is a conservative and votes republican because they share some conservative values, (like anti Gay marriage and anti-Abortion) even though they are the source for Islamophobia. They go around complaining that all Americans hate Muslims and then support the people who produce that hate.”

    I thought I was the only one who noticed that irony. 🙂

  • Meryem

    The sad thing is, is I have Muslim friends who are posting this article and are now convinced that the majority of Americans hate Islam. I am Muslim too but I don’t think most of America hates us. Although these attacks were tragic and scary, they don’t show that America hates Muslims. The perpetrators are just a tiny fraction of America, and the majority of the American population isn’t bigoted and Islamophobic. You cannot judge all Americans because of the horrible actions of a few people. Some of the Muslims I know are starting to feel the same way towards Americans that these extremist right Islamophobies are feeling towards Muslims. The Islamophobies think most Muslims are terrorists because of extremist nutjobs like the Osama Bin Laden and the Fort Hood Shooter, and some of my Muslim friends are thinking most Americans are Islamophobic, because of the actions of the right wing nutjobs who committed these crimes in the past few weeks. One thing that is ironic, one of these Muslims is a conservative and votes republican because they share some conservative values, (like anti Gay marriage and anti-Abortion) even though they are the source for Islamophobia. They go around complaining that all Americans hate Muslims and then support the people who produce that hate.

  • Chameleon

    When politicians jump on the Islamophobia bandwagon, it’s not just another braying ass in a mob. We must understand how this takes the hatred to a whole new level, and to react vigorously as citizens and voters to expose and oppose such hatred. Politicians represent our government, which interprets and enforces our Constitutional rights — the only thing that stands between us and a mob of hate. When politicians join this mob by declaring Islam not to be a religion and Muslims to be our enemy, they legitimize and exacerbate all that pent up hatred and violence by abrogating all of our Constitutional rights in one fell swoop in the eyes of all other citizens. That is why the phrase “trolling for assassins” has such visceral appeal (per the posts above) to distinguish the extraordinary impact of politicians jumping on the Islamophobia bandwagon

    Unlike the well funded hate machines, which just manufacture the hate, politicians also have the extraordinary power to open the flood gates of all that hate and to destroy the faith in our Constitution for some of the weakest-minded and most offended Muslims. This is the ultimate objective of the hate machines, since once this happens, the legitimacy of the hatred can finally become a self-fulfilling prophecy as the hatred and reactive animosity accumulates on both sides and spirals out of control. We must not let this happen. We can ignore the hate machines, but we cannot ignore the politicizing of those hate machines.

  • Ummer

    The bad side of this “Christian-friend” is that innocent people are being framed.

    For a muslim it’s a sin to be suspicious…

    It’s the same as the classic divide and conquer technique practiced by the colonialist British and the like and their current torch bearers.

  • Christian-friend

    The good side of this: No one was kill.

    By the way, it’s not that I totally disagree with Islamophobes, it’s just that I get tired of them always thinking of Muslims having a hivemind desire to make Islamic, rather than humans.

  • Ummer

    We all know that the people who are perpetrating these attacks are the standard divide and conquer elites in governance and police. They did the same in the 90s with the black community, they did the same creating the KKK, they’re doing the same again.

    Whoever benefits, dun it.

    Anyway, at least these mosques should arm themselves… surely the NRA would agree with that?

    Can you imagine that…? Question is… who would disagree with that? Ah those who dun it.

  • Daniel Stein

    Everyone seems to be ignoring the relationship between American islamaphobia and the fierce pro Israel stand our government has apopted. Every single prominent anti Muslim islamaphobe spreading fear and hatred in our society is pro Israel. Whether they are congressmen, Christian rightwingers, neoconservatives ect.

    One has to consider the reason behind this surge is in essence done to further support Israel by demonizing her “enemies”. Seriously, what better way to justify israels war crimes by painting her victims as subhuman, undeserving of criticism.

  • @Garibaldi

    I first heard the phrase “trolling for assassins” while watching Rachel Maddow interview a former fundamentalist Christian preacher, Frank Schaeffer – who now sees the Light – who used the phrase then to describe right-wing Christian hate speech regarding President Obama.
    I thought that it was an accurate phrase then and I think it is accurate regarding this Loonwatch post as well.

    The sad fact is, there are plenty of troubled people out there willing and able to take the bait that these cowards hiding behind “free speech” cast. Hardly the “fishers of men” that Jesus was referring to.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/11/18/rachel-maddow-frank-schae_n_362415.html

  • Hatethehaterz

    Quite ironic actually. The only “radicals” and “extremists” I see here are the Muslim/Islam-hating bullies perpetrating these attacks.

  • Solid Snake

    @Garibaldi@BuddhaShrnk
    That is an excellent phrase to describe the actions and speech of islamophobes. When they do not see any reason to justify their hate for Muslims they attempt to manufacture a reason, so they say inflammatory things knowing that there is a good chance that it will cause violence or anger from the already embattled Muslim ppopulation all over the world. For example the Quran burning and the subsequent riots, also the soldiers who threw the qurans into a dumpster to burn them. the country is extremely unstable so the last thing you want to do is offend or provoke the population. Then when the violence does occur or the assassin does show up these islamophobes point to it as a reason to hate Islam with glee despite the clear danger to innocents. Trolling for assassins is an excellent phrase.

  • Isa

    “and that radical Muslims are “trying to kill Americans every week.” Walsh’s warnings were met with applause.”

    Of course, we all know that by “radical Muslims”, Walsh simply means “Muslims.” The caveat, “radical” is an insincere attempt to “soften the blow”, but it doesn’t fool anybody, including the haters themselves – who “get” the code-language and interpret the real meaning behind the words.

  • Garibaldi

    “trolling for assassins” I will likely use this phrase Buddha because this is exactly what these politicians and hatemongers are doing.

  • After WWII many who spoke and wrote anti-Semitic rhetoric were put on trial and prosecuted just as those who pulled the triggers were.

    There is an increase in hate speech and it has once again, like the McCarthy Era, reached the halls of Congress. We are not surprised to see this increase in hate speech, which can be seen as trolling for assassins, lead to violence.

  • mindy1

    All this energy on hate…this is making the country I like look as though it is filled with nothing but bigots, and I know that that is not the case 🙁

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