Mosques Vandalized in US
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Several mosques were vandalized and a number of suspected hate crimes targeting Muslims were carried out after dozens of United States governors announced they would not accept Syrian refugees in their states.
The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), a civil rights organisation, said on Tuesday that it has documented recent "vandalism, threats and hate [incidents]" in Massachusetts, Florida, Texas, Kentucky, Virginia, Nebraska, Tennessee, Ohio and New York, among other states.
The wave of incidents follows declarations by at least 27 state governors - 26 from the right-wing Republican party and a Democrat - saying they will block Syrian refugees, citing last Friday's deadly attacks in Paris, claimed by the Daesh (ISIL) terrorist group.
In one incident, officials at the Islamic Centre in Omaha, Nebraska, said that an image of the Eiffel Tower was spray-painted on the wall of a local mosque overnight on Monday, CAIR said.
In Pflugerville, Texas, worshippers arrived at their local mosque on Monday morning to find a torn-up copy of the Quran on the doorstep, Al Jazeera reported.
The Islamic Center of St Petersburg, Florida, received threatening voicemails just hours after news of the Paris attacks broke.
The caller said that they have "a militia that is going to come down to your Islamic Society of Pinellas County and firebomb you and shoot whoever is there in the head".
According to CAIR, another Florida mosque, the location of which has not been made public, received similar threats. A caller vowed to "bomb" the mosque and "shoot people at will".
In Portland, Oregon, protesters gathered outside a local and taunted worshippers as they arrived for prayer. They called members of the local Muslim community "cowards" and told them they are "going to hell".
On Tuesday, an Uber driver in Charlotte, North Carolina, said he was punched and threatened with death by a passenger who mistook him as a Muslim, according to local media.
And a Muslim family in Orlando, Florida, said their family home was shot at by an unknown assailant on Monday. Speaking to local media, the Elmasri family and their neighbours said they were targeted because of their faith.
'Clear uptick in anti-Islam rhetoric'
Corey Saylor, spokesperson at CAIR, said on Tuesday that the governors' refusal to accept Syrian refugees has encouraged Islamophobic sentiment.
"It gives people a license to put into action the uglier things they may be thinking" about Muslims, he said.
"After any incident like the Paris attack, we see a clear uptick in anti-Islam rhetoric."
Human rights groups have slammed the governors' anti-refugee measures.
While governors are not able to ban Syrian refugees from residing in their states, they can suspend cooperation between state programmes and the federal government.
The federal government is the sole authority for refugee resettlement. But states can cut their own funding to local refugee programmes, placing the full weight the financial burden on the federal government.
"That can make it more difficult," Angelita Baeyens, programmes director for the Robert F Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, said. "But it also sends a message of extreme intolerance and Islamophobia."
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said on Monday that the US should not allow any Syrian refugees, including orphaned children, into the country.
"I don't think orphans under five are being, you know, should be admitted into the United States at this point," Christie said.