Threats, Harassment, Vandalism at US Mosques Reach Record High
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Anecdotal evidence suggests 2015 has been one of the most intensely anti-Muslim periods in American history. A new study shared with CNN puts statistical heft behind that suspicion.
Through December 8, American mosques and Islamic centers have been the victims of vandalism, harassment and anti-Muslim bigotry at least 63 times this year, the Council on American-Islamic Relations says in the study.
That's the highest number since the Muslim civil rights group began keeping track in 2009 and a threefold increase over last year, CNN reportes.
The previous high was 53 incidents in 2010, during the controversy over the "ground zero mosque" near the site of the 9/11 attack in New York. But many of those incidents concerned bias at zoning hearings for new mosques. This year's hostilities have a sharper edge.
This November alone saw 17 anti-Muslim incidents at mosques, with the vehemence rising after terrorists aligned with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) killed 130 people in Paris. Death threats and vandalism appear to be spiking again since December 3, when a Muslim couple killed 14 people and injured 21 more in San Bernardino, California.
CAIR provided the data after CNN asked about the recent rise in reported anti-Muslim hate crimes. Neither the FBI nor CAIR have yet tallied the total number for 2015. But the data on mosques provides an early statistical look at how bad this year has been for American Muslims.
Typically, hate crimes against people -- including Muslims -- are twice as high as crimes against property, such as mosques, according to the FBI's annual reports, leading many observers to predict that 2015 will witness the most anti-Muslim incidents since the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
Corey Saylor, a CAIR spokesman, compiled the study based on media accounts and reports from the group's regional chapters. He cautioned that the data is preliminary; the real number of incidents at mosques is likely higher. According to the Justice Department, hate crimes are often dramatically under-reported.
Still, CAIR's study shows the depth of Islamophobia prevalant in US. The incidents occurred in nearly every region of the country, including the nation's capital. (On Thursday, the Washington, D.C.-based CAIR itself was evacuated after it received hate mail containing a suspicious substance.)
The incidents against mosques break down into four categories:
1. Damage, destruction or vandalism
2. Harassment, including the use of anti-Islamic slurs
3. Intimidation or threats
4. Clear bias during local zoning proceedings in which Muslims are seeking to build mosques
Since the Paris attacks, vandals have smashed mosque property and covered doorways with feces. Hackers replaced a Phoenix Islamic center's homepage with a site that read "Vive le France." A man in Falls Church, Virginia, left a fake explosive device at a mosque and battered its front gate.
The situation seems so dire that officials at the All Dulles Area Muslim Society in northern Virginia said the security firm they hired to protect the mosque quit this week. "They said, 'We don't know what's going to happen, we can't protect you,'" said Imam Mohamed Magid, the mosque's leader. ADAMS has been vandalized twice in past years, according to members, but not recently.