Anti-Muslim Bigotry Intensifies in U.S.
Posted: August 27, 2010
Mosques and Islamic Centers around the country have been targeted by anti-Muslim protests, hateful invective and violence. The following is a sampling of incidents.
February 2011: The Abdul-Majid Karim Hasan Islamic Center in Hamden, Connecticut, was vandalized with an expletive spray-painted in red. In September 2010, the Center was similarly vandalized with offensive images.
January 24, 2011: Roger Stockham of Imperial Beach, California, was arrested with explosives in his vehicle in the parking lot of the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, Michigan. According to the authorities, he had the intention of blowing up the mosque, where mourners had gathered for a funeral.
December 20, 2010: A male driver followed a female Muslim driver wearing a niqab [face veil] into the parking lot of the Abubaker Siddique Islamic Center in Columbus, Ohio. When he exited his vehicle, he allegedly pepper-sprayed her through the driver's side window of her own vehicle, yelling obscenities. The man reportedly told her, "I'm going to kill all of you, all you guys. Tell the Muslims to go back from wherever they are from." FBI is investigating the incident as a hate crime.
December 18, 2010: An explosive device was found near the Islamic Center of Lafayette in Louisiana. Located in a briefcase leaning against a fence near the Center, the device was deactivated safely by law enforcement. This incident followed another event on September 21, 2010 in which a car was set on fire at the Center. The FBI is investigating both cases as possible hate crimes.
November 18, 2010: The Westboro Baptist Church disseminated their anti-Muslim messages outside the Islamic Center of America, while children from the Muslim American Youth Academy were on their way to school in the adjacent building. Three members of the Westboro Baptist Church held up signs that read, "Imams rape children," "God hates Islam," and "Muhammad = False Lying Prophet." Representatives of the Islamic Center of America reportedly said it was the second time in a month that Westboro had targeted the mosque with their protests.
September 17, 2010: The Florence Islamic Center in Florence, South Carolina found that slices of bacon had been laid on the walkway in front of the mosque spelling out the words, "PIG CHOPS." The act likely aimed to offend Muslim worshippers at the center due to the Islamic dietary restriction against consuming pork.
September 12, 2010: In Knoxville, Tennessee, a desecrated Qur'an was found on the sidewalk outside of the Annoor Mosque, also known as the Muslim Community of Knoxville. According to reports, the Qur'an appeared to be partially burned and shot with a firearm.
September 12, 2010: A burned copy of the Qur'an was reportedly found in a trash can outside the Islamic Society of San Francisco. San Francisco police are investigating the incident.
September 11, 2010: In East Lansing, Michigan, a burned Qur'an was discovered on the walkway outside of the Islamic Center of East Lansing. Torn and burned pages of the Qur'an were found at the site, including some that appeared to be smeared with feces.
September 11, 2010: In New York City, an anti-Muslim group Stop Islamization of America (SIOA) held a rally to protest the proposed Islamic Center near Ground Zero on the anniversary of the September 11 attacks. After a number of commemorative prayers by interfaith leaders, Geller told rally participants, "Only you can stop this triumpheral mosque on the cherished site of conquered land." Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who was introduced by Geller has "her hero," told the crowd: "As we all know, America, New York and shari'a are incompatible…A tolerant society, like your city New York, must defend itself against the powers of darkness, against the forces of hatred, the blight of ignorance….we must never give a free hand to those who want to subjugate us." Although directed by SIOA to bring American flags instead of signage, participants carried various banners and signs, including ones that read, "No Obama's Mosque" and "Islam = 1400 years of Aggression, Murder! 'Peace' of Islam = Cutting Non-Muslims to Pieces! Never Submit to Sharia – Islam!"
September 8, 2010: In Hudson, New York, three young men allegedly vandalized and spray painted racial slurs on the Hudson Islamic Center. They were charged with aggravated harassment conspiracy and criminal mischief.
August 30, 2010: Five teenage boys were arrested for allegedly harassing members of the World Sufi Foundation mosque in Carlton, New York, by yelling obscenities, and beeping their car horns during evening prayers. As the teens drove away, one car swerved and hit mosque member David Bell, authorities said. Mosque members have said that they also heard a gunshot.
August 28-29, 2010: A piece of construction equipment was burned and three others damaged at the site of a planned Islamic Center and mosque in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Federal investigators, who have concluded that the fire was arson, said they would not be able to determine whether the incident is a hate crime until there is a suspect.
August 26, 2010: A drunk man entered the Imam Mosque in Queens, New York, and shouted anti-Muslim slurs, calling the worshippers "terrorists." The man also urinated on prayer rugs.
August 22, 2010: The Coalition to Honor Ground Zero organized a rally against the proposed site of the Islamic Center near Ground Zero, which attracted hundreds of people. Some of the signs carried by protesters included, "Islam + Sharia Law = Barbarism," "Building a mosque at ground zero is like building a memorial to Hitler at Auschwitz," "Jesus Died to Save You/Allah Wants you to Kill for Him/ Proud to Be an Islamophobe," and many copies of posters that read, "SHARIA" with letters dripping in red paint made to look like blood. In one incident, anti-Muslim epithets were shouted at a man who was mistakenly believed to be Muslim.
August 18-20, 2010: Three signs were left at Masjid Madera in Madera California that read "No Temple for the God of terrorism at Ground Zero. ANB," "Wake up America, the Enemy is here. ANB" and "American Nationalist Brotherhood." A brick was also thrown at the center. The incidents are being investigated as a hate crime.
August 17, 2010: During a community hearing in Green Bay City, Wisconsin, on the Islamic Society of Wisconsin's plan to rezone a former bait-and-tackle store and convert it into a mosque, one resident reportedly said: "This disturbs me highly. I don't understand a lot of the religion. What I read about and hear about is so against what I stand for. I'm just dead set against this." Another resident, who requested the item be sent back to committee to see if a noise stipulation could be added, reportedly said, "But this religion on its depths [sic], I don't think really has the same interest as the American way of life or its values."
August 6, 2010: Operation Save America (OSA) protested outside Masjid An-Noor mosque in Bridgeport, Connecticut, after Friday prayers. Members of the group reportedly shouted at worshippers "Jesus Hates Muslims" and "Islam is a Lie."
August 2010: A new mosque under construction in Phoenix, Arizona, was vandalized with anti-Muslim graffiti. In addition, paint was spilled on the floor and glass windows were broken at the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix.
July 31, 2010: The Islamic Center of Northern Kentucky, which plans to build a mosque in Florence, Kentucky, was targeted with flyers protesting the construction of their new facility. The flyers, which were anonymously distributed around the site, include quotes such as, "Americans need to have this stopped" and "We are the United States of America not an Islamic nation."
July 30, 2010: About 20 protesters gathered across the street from the Islamic Center of Temecula Valley in California to demonstrate against the relocation and construction of the mosque. Some protesters held signs that read, "Mosques are Monuments to Terrorism," "Muslims Danced for Joy on 9/11" and "No Sharia Law." Some protestors brought their dogs to offend worshippers. An event announcement posted on the We the People - Citizens in Action Web site, a local Tea Party group, read: "An Islamic Mosque is planned to be built in Temecula. We are holding a Singing - Praying - Patriotic rally on Friday on the side of road on Rio Nedo in Temecula. Bring your Bibles, flags, signs, dogs and singing voice on Friday to let everyone know we are a Christain [sic] community and will not tolerate Sharia law and radical behavior..."
July 25, 2010: A fire was set in the playground of the Dar El-Eman Islamic Center in Arlington, Texas. The fire followed an incident two days earlier in which obscene anti-Muslim graffiti was discovered in the mosque's parking lot. A third incident involved racial slurs being shouted at worshippers. Henry Glaspell of Arlington was charged on February 22, 2011 with a federal hate crime for setting fire to playground equipment. If convicted of destroying religious property, Glaspell faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
July 23, 2010: Operation Save America (OSA) members demonstrated in front of the Islamic Center of Charlotte in North Carolina. According to a report on the demonstration posted on the group's Web site by two of its members, "OSA saints stormed the 'gates of hell' at the largest mosque…to confront the false and murderous god 'allah' with the claims of Christ."
July 14, 2010: Hundreds of people demonstrated against the relocation and construction of the Mufreesboro Islamic Center in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Protestors carried American and Israeli flags, chanted "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus" and waved signs that read, "To Embrace Islam is to Embrace Terrorism and Murder," "Islam is Not a Religion" and "Christian Love –Yes, Islamic Hate – No." Graffiti that read "Not Welcome" appeared on a sign at the project site weeks before the protest. A group called Former Muslims United also put up a billboard saying "Stop the Murfreesboro Mosque."
July 5, 2010: Members of the The Dove World Outreach Center and its supporters demonstrated outside the Islamic Center in Gainesville, Florida. Protesters wore "Islam is of the Devil" T-Shirts and carried signs that read: "Obama is a Moslem," "30 Terrorist Training Camps in the U.S." "Shariah Law is Evil," "Jesus Saves" and "Repent."
June 27, 2010: According to the Brooklyn Paper, a man who lives across the street from the proposed Muslim American Society mosque in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, told the paper, "If they build a mosque there, I'm going to bomb the mosque…will give them a lot of trouble. They're not going to stay here alive."
June 24, 2010: Vandals reportedly smeared excrement on a WhyIslam campaign van while the vehicle was parked outside the Islamic Center of Eastside in Bellevue, Washington.
June 6, 2010: During a rally organized by Stop Islamization of America (SIOA) and attended by thousands near the proposed Islamic Center, SIOA head Pamela Geller said, "It is unconscionable to build a shrine to the very ideology that inspired the jihadist attacks at ground zero...to build a shrine an Islamic flag of conquest on the sacred ground, the cherished site of a conquered land. This is historic. This is Islamic history. This is what they do…"
June 2010: During a civic association meeting on Staten Island to address representatives of a group that sought to convert a Roman Catholic convent into a mosque, a woman asked, "Wouldn't you agree that every terrorist, past and present, has come out of a mosque?" A resident interviewed by a local paper at a rally to protest the proposed mosque reportedly said, "We don't want the mosque. This is a nice neighborhood and we hope to keep it that way."
May 10, 2010: A crude pipe bomb exploded at the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida in Jacksonville, Florida. According to news reports, about 60 people were inside the mosque at the time of the blast. The firebomb caused minor damage to the building.
April – July, 2010: The Islamic Center of St. Cloud, Minnesota, the city's only mosque, was vandalized on two separate occasions, both resulting in broken windows. Businesses and restaurants owned by the area's Muslim Somali community have also been vandalized with graffiti. In July, a Somali-owned grocery store, Hormud Meat & Grocery Market, was spray-painted with the message "GO HOME" in large red letters.
February – March 2010: A plan by a Muslim group in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, to convert a former retail store into a mosque stirred concerns among local residents. At a town hall meeting, one resident said, "Their places of worship are threatening…As kind and as generous and as helpful to mankind that this person requesting this might be in his occupation, Muslims are out to get Christians…their goal is to wipe out Christianity around the world…" Another resident later reportedly said, "[The mosque leadership] is going to have people coming from all over the area. I surely don't know these people. There might be a couple who might have on their mind to harm Christians." Rev. Walter Hackney, interim pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Oostburg, said. "Can there be a government official who can assure us that they will not in anyway be teaching or doing things that are unsafe for the community."