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Salon.com: Eight attacks, 11 days

15 August 2012 Salon 34 Comments Email This Post Email This Post
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)

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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34 Comments »

  1. We live in a nation of over 300 million people. The people who commit these crimes represent only a very very small percentage of the population. Over 10 million crimes are committed in the united States each year of these 160 of them were crimes against Muslims. of course if we look at property crimes the number is just over 9 million which means property crimes against Mosques is only 16 tenths of a percent of total property crimes committed.

    I only relate these numbers as we are told in these forums many times over that Islamic extremists represent a small part of the population of Muslims and that people over react over various incidents. Most of the crimes against mosques are fairly minor, the vast majority of incidents involving individuals entail little violence and very few injuries. Yet CAIR and many Muslims are upset and seem to want quite a bit of action taken in terms of ensuring security including investigating various groups such as White supremacists for their views and activities.

    Now lets look at the other side. Muslims do commit many violent crimes in which people are killed or injured with properties being burnt to the ground or worse. People see this and they want protection even though the numbers of people involved may be small. They want police to investigate Muslim organizations to determine which ones are dangerous and which ones are not. Does this seem recognizable? Do the calls of the worried groups seem similar?

    It does not matter to the terrified, the number of people involved in terror based upon a percentage of a population. All that matters is that they think people are out to hurt them or their family and they want them stopped. That is why the government will infiltrate various domestic groups to determine their goals and what they say behind closed doors, just as they will infiltrate Muslim organizations to determine their goals and what they say behind closed doors. Christians are not exempt from this scrutiny, they infiltrated various Christian groups when there were problems with clinic bombings and I will bet there are still informers within these groups. Which is why suits trying to get surveillance of Muslim groups stopped will not be successful.

  2. I think it is amusing that muslims want the feds to act. CAIR had a campaign on – don’t cooperate with the FBI.

    Muslims want the rest of us to ignore what their violent compadres – huge mobs involved in some cases, and laws passed making certain groups forbidden even on pain of death. It is not a small tiny percentage of muslims involved. There are of course many peaceful muslims.

    Many a harmless herr and hausfrau were part of Nazi Germany.

  3. Not only do the muslims ignore the mobbers and bombers, but also the spokesmen in their own mosques, at al Azhar even, urging the destruction of various groups. They want us to ignore all that.

  4. I refuse to believe that they’re all “isolated incidents”

  5. yes! Stupid ignorant people!

  6. Unfortunately there is always something sinister at work…heavy sigh…:p

  7. 9/11 anniversary 2012, I would be very scary by the bigotry because if they will be try targeting or hurt Muslim or me.

  8. Sinister has names: Frank Gaffney, Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller, Michelle Bachman…. need I continue? The Islamphobia machine has been hard at work and has roused the white supremacists and the right-wing xenophobic fundamentalists.

  9. Is something alarmist at work?

  10. Is something alarmist at work?

  11. I completely understand that in a nation with millions of crime victims that this is unfortunately another crime(s). Bear in mind though that is is rightly being news, actually it should be front page news) because there is a pattern of Mosque destruction an injuries. Because of the common links this is a “Serial Crime”. It should well be investigated and whoever is doing this will be caught. I hope soon. BTW, anon compares this with Nazi Germany- explain that dude. Lets see if you are a compassionate person, try to put yourself in the victims shoes. How would you feel if you are constantly targeted and you are being targeted by your fellow American Citizens. How would you feel? Would your heart sink everyday you had to let your child go to school and fear and pray they are safe while they are in someone else’s care…all because your chances of being a victim have increased outrageously because you have been targeted? I pray that the shooter is arrested and answers for his hate crime.

  12. Ignorance multiplied by fear.

  13. Just a bunch of mullet good ole southern boys. I bet.

  14. This is a serial crime. Churches have been victims of arson, vandalism and murder seems like every week. I am not sure if this is a hate crime, but the polling of American randomly asked do not like Mosque in their hoods or Muslims in their schools and workplace as they profess to be Christians (yeah, I know, give me a break). So I cannot ignore that the serial crimes against the Mosque are a hate crime. I pray that the police catch the cowards.

  15. BTW, The instigators should be arrested at the very, very least. First to be cuffed should be Michele Bachman.

  16. Wow, I’m sorry, but what sort of person would do this? Places of peaceful worship, in any religion, should be respected. It’s bad enough to hate someone, but to go to a sacred place of theirs, where they practice their own beliefs…That’s a new low.

  17. very sad…

  18. it is done in ignorance…

  19. Evidently.

  20. i was born and raised in america and im a black male, i wear my islamic garbs every day and in certain places i really feel unsafe. people say things like go back to your country or leave america but im 100% american, but the worse is when i go some wear and every body just stops and stare at me like i got two heads so im black and muslim lol double negative in there eyes. ALLAHU AHKBAR

  21. i mean where not wear

  22. When people fear you, you’ve won.

  23. In 20-30 years time they will come running out of that mosque and wreck half the town and burn people alive.

  24. Debra Lewis,

    what injuries do you speak of?

    “Because of the common links this is a “Serial Crime”.” you sure? i would think a serial crime would have to be commited by the same
    perpetrator(s)? not sure copy cat crimes would be considered “serial”. after columbine there was a spat of school shootings. don’t remember anyone labeling that as serial? could be wrong there, not sure?

    “I pray that the shooter is arrested and answers for his hate crime.” what shooter are you taking about?

  25. “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”

    muslims have a strange sense of malicious? so throwing things at people is less malicious than throwing some pork on the sidewalk?

    s3, i thought pig parts were no big deal to muslims. why do these guys call it “especially malicious”?

  26. looks like a bad ramadan all around.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-19281043

  27. And yet the mainstream news still refuses to refer to these despicable acts as terrorism? I swear if someone bombed a christian church it would be immediately classified as an act of hatred and terror and they’d immediately blame “muslim religious extremists” or some other bullshit title they’ve invented. These hate crimes are nothing more than radical christian righted winged acts of terrorism.

  28. “The violence is thought to be linked to Sunni groups trying to undermine the Shia-led government”

    Mike, it’s just peace loving people have a disagreement.

  29. yeah, you know what is really strange, considering islam is “the religion of peace”. is that these “disagreements” increase during their “holies” month, every year. i’ve had muslims tell me that they pray 5 times a day to “stay in touch with god”. considering al-zawahari has a praymark on his forehead, i’m thinking god needs a new line of communication. maybe he should have made his “divine revelation” so hard to understand or open to “mis”interpretation?

    [5.33] The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His apostle and strive to make mischief in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned; this shall be as a disgrace for them in this world, and in the hereafter they shall have a grievous chastisement,

    those shia are clearly mischief makers, they have shrines and saints. they have corupted “the truth”. they are apostates, right aziz?

    Volume 9, Book 84, Number 57:

    Narrated ‘Ikrima:

    Some Zanadiqa (atheists) were brought to ‘Ali and he burnt them. The news of this event, reached Ibn ‘Abbas who said, “If I had been in his place, I would not have burnt them, as Allah’s Apostle forbade it, saying, ‘Do not punish anybody with Allah’s punishment (fire).’ I would have killed them according to the statement of Allah’s Apostle, ‘Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.’”

    Book 019, Number 4321:

    It is reported on the authority of Sa’b b. Jaththama that the Prophet of Allah (may peace be upon him), when asked about the women and children of the polytheists being killed during the night raid, said: They are from them.

  30. evil people do evil things like this

  31. evil people do evil things like this

  32. The book you ask for is sold out.Be quiet!Are you kidding? He is heavily insured against death.You did fairly well!Beyond all questions you are right.Betty and Susan are talking on the telephone.I’m very proud of you.I smelled a smell of cooking.I need your help

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