Image

5:10 AM / Wednesday September 30, 2020

12 Dec 2015

After California shooting, fears of Muslim harassment rise

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
December 12, 2015 Category: Diaspora Posted by:

ABOVE PHOTO:  People stand on the steps of New York’s City Hall during an interfaith rally in response to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s call to block Muslims from entering the United States, Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015, in New York.  (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

By Jonathan Lemire

and Michael Balsamo

Associated Press

NEW YORK — A severed pig’s head was left outside a mosque in Philadelphia. An Islamic center in Florida was defaced. A Sikh temple in California was vandalized by someone who mistook it for a mosque and left graffiti that included a profane reference to the Islamic State group.

Advocacy groups believe there has been a spike in anti-Muslim incidents across the United States in recent weeks that can be linked to last week’s mass shooting in California and the inflammatory rhetoric of Donald Trump and other Republican presidential candidates. And they say that Muslims are fearful the backlash could lead to further harassment and violence.

“The spike began with the Paris attacks and has intensified with what happened in San Bernardino and now with what Donald Trump is proposing,” Ibrahim Hooper, lead spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said Wednesday. “I have never seen such fear and apprehension in the Muslim community, even after 9/11.”

It’s hard to measure the extent of the problem. The FBI, which keeps statistics on hate crimes committed nationwide, counted 154 bias offenses against Muslims last year. Data for 2015 is unavailable.

The Anti-Defamation League, relying partly on complaints and partly on media reports, said it has logged more than three dozen incidents since the Nov. 13 terror attacks in Paris that left 130 dead.

“We’re talking at least three dozen that we’re aware of, and I’m sure there are many more incidents that haven’t been reported,” said Oren Segal, the director of the ADL’s Center on Extremism.

“With legit terror attacks and the public discourse about them, it has created an atmosphere ripe for these types of stereotypes and incidents,” Segal said. “People are exploiting them.”

Segal wasn’t able to provide a comparison point to the same period last year, but said that the pace of incidents appears to have picked up since the Dec. 2 shooting in San Bernardino that killed 14 people and injured 21 others. The suspects, Syed Rizwan Farook, and his wife Tashfeen Malik, later died in a gun battle with police.

Image

That shooting prompted Trump on Monday to propose a complete ban on Muslim immigrants into the U.S., triggering a fierce debate that has dominated the national political conversation. Advocates say other GOP presidential candidates also have fueled anti-Islamic sentiment, including Ben Carson who suggested a Muslim should not be president and Rick Santorum who questioned whether the U.S. Constitution protected Islam.

“The ground had been primed for this kind of harassment by the ongoing demonization of Islam,” said Hooper. “After 9/11 there were hate crimes on the edges of society, but now it’s in the mainstream with the leading Republican presidential candidate saying Muslims are not wanted in America.”

Among the incidents reported since the California shooting:

– In Philadelphia, police have stepped up patrols around houses of worship after a severed pig’s head was left outside the Al Aqsa Islamic Society. Police are continuing to investigate; no arrests have been made.

-A Florida man was arrested after authorities said he vandalized the Islamic Center of Palm Beach in North Palm Beach, Florida, on Friday. More than a dozen windows were broken.

-The imam of an Islamic center in St. Louis, Missouri, told a local television station that someone claiming to be a former Marine left a threatening voicemail message on the mosque’s answering machine on Saturday. Fox 2 TV (KTVI), which obtained a copy of the recording, reported that the man said he “killed a lot of Muslims” and, using expletives, said he would decapitate Muslims.

Sometimes it’s hard for authorities to decipher whether the suspects are fueled by bigotry or whether there’s something else in play.

The New York Police Department said Piro Kolvani, 55, walked into a food market in Queens Saturday, had a brief verbal exchange with the store clerk and then attacked him. The clerk, Sarker Haque, 53, told WPIX-TV his assailant shouted “I kill Muslims,” before punching him in his left eye.

In a short, disjointed phone interview Wednesday, Kolvani said he was trying to buy something in the store. When asked if he said anything negative about Muslims during his exchange with the clerk, he shouted “No! No! No!” and then hung up on a reporter. Kolvani was arrested on an assault charge but the Queens District Attorney’s office has not determined if he’ll be charged with a hate crime.

Court records show Kolvani, a resident of Jacksonville, Florida, was arrested there after allegedly pulling his pants down in front of a Walmart store on Nov. 21.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter

Leave a Comment

Recent News

Style

Fall home decor trends: Comforting hues, flexible design

September 17, 2020

Tweet Share Pin Email By Kim Cook New York-based designer Glenn Gissler painted this New York loft...

Entertainment

Emmy winners highlight push for social justice

September 25, 2020

Tweet Share Pin Email By Beth harris ASSOCIATED PRESS  LOS ANGELES — Regina King and Uzo Aduba...

Stateside

Trump’s tax revelation could tarnish image that fueled rise

September 28, 2020

Tweet Share Pin Email By JILL COLVIN WASHINGTON (AP) — The bombshell revelations that President Donald Trump...

Sports

Deion Sanders set to become Jackson State’s football coach

September 25, 2020

Tweet Share Pin Email ABOVE PHOTO: Deion Sanders  (Photo: DFree / Shutterstock) ASSOCIATED PRESS  JACKSON, Miss.— Hall...

Seniors

Know the facts about pulmonary fibrosis

September 17, 2020

Tweet Share Pin Email BPT Pulmonary fibrosis (PF) is a progressive and debilitating disease that leads to...

Horoscopes

SUNscopes for the week of September 27

September 25, 2020

Tweet Share Pin Email All Signs: It’s been tough with Saturn and Pluto in Capricorn at odds...

The Philadelphia Sunday Sun Staff