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  1. #141
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    Four Mosques Have Burned In Seven Weeks - Leaving Many Muslims and Advocates Stunned

    "The short answer is we haven't seen anything like this in the past."

    by Albert Samaha & Talal Ansari - Feb. 28, 2017

    On January 7, the Islamic Center of Lake Travis, in Austin, Texas, which had been under construction, caught on fire. A week later, on January 14, the Islamic Center of Eastside, in Bellevue, Washington, burned.

    Two weeks after that, on January 27, several hours after President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries, a fire destroyed the Islamic Center of Victoria, in Texas.

    Then, February 24, a small blaze broke out at the front entrance of the Daarus Salaam Mosque, near Tampa, Florida.

    Authorities have ruled that three of the four fires were caused by arson. An official at the Travis County Fire Marshal told BuzzFeed News that the investigation into the cause of the fire at the Islamic Center of Lake Travis remains open.

    "We've never seen four mosques burned within seven weeks of each other," said Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups around the country. "It's part of a whole series of dramatic attacks on Muslims."

    The mosque fires come amid increased fear about hate crimes against minority religious groups. In recent weeks, scores of bomb threats were called into Jewish community centers and schools around the country and graveyards in Jewish cemeteries in three states were vandalized. On Sunday, somebody threw a rock through a window of the Masjid Abu Bakr mosque in Denver. In Redmond, Washington, vandals destroyed the Muslim Association of Puget Sound mosque's entrance sign on two occasions within two months of the election. Two days after the Inauguration, a woman shattered the windows of the Davis Islamic Center, in California, and left strips of raw bacon on a door handle. In January, a white nationalist fatally shot six people at a mosque in Quebec City, Canada. Last week, a white man shot two Indian men, one fatally, at a Kansas bar after making racial slurs, questioning their immigration status, and shouting, "Get out of my country."

    "The short answer is we haven't seen anything like this in the past," Potok said, referring to the overall surge in reported hate crimes across the country. "This is my 18th year here and I haven't seen anything remotely like this."

    To have three mosque fires ruled arson within six weeks is highly unusual, said Corey Saylor, director of the Department to Monitor and Combat Islamophobia at the Council on American-Islamic Relations. "In normal times, I will see one to two mosque incidents of any type per month, and rarely is it arson," he said. "I can tell you for sure I have not seen levels of violence like this since I started tracking this stuff" in 2009.

    The fire at the Islamic Center of Lake Travis - which nearly two months later is still under investigation - destroyed the partially constructed frame. Community members began raising funds for the building four years earlier.

    "There are a lot more people who are in support of us building this back again than people who oppose us but it takes one crazy guy to do something," Shakeel Rashed, an executive board member of the Islamic Center of Lake Travis, told the Texas Tribune in January.

    "Everybody believes we need to be more vigilant. When we start reconstruction we definitely want to plan the security of the place better, have more cameras," Rashed said.

    In Bellevue, Washington, six days before the inauguration, surveillance cameras caught a man walking toward the Islamic Center of Eastside while carrying a backpack and a gallon jug shortly before 2:45 am, the Seattle Times reported. Less than a minute later, the mosque was on fire. Investigators at the scene found a melted gallon jug and a gas can. Officers arrested Isaac Wayne Wilson, who remained at the scene, smelled of gasoline, and confessed to setting the blaze, according to police. Authorities said there was no evidence it was a hate crime. A year earlier, Wilson, who has a history of mental illness, had been convicted of misdemeanor assault after an incident at the mosque.

    Hours after President Donald Trump signed the controversial executive order banning immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries, someone intentionally set fire to the Islamic Center of Victoria in Texas in the middle of the night, according to investigators, who have yet to identify a suspect. The blaze caused more than $500,000 in damage, and completely destroyed the 16-year-old mosque, shaking the Muslim American community in south Texas. The mosque's president, Dr. Shahid Hashmi, told the Texas Tribune his community would forgive whoever set the fire, but added, "there's no way we can forget. There's no way our children can forget."

    The fire at the Daarus Salaam Mosque in Thonotosassa, Florida, on Friday was at least the third time in seven months that a mosque in the Tampa area had been set on fire, following incidents at the Islamic Education Center in July and the Masjid Omar mosque in August.

    Firefighters responded to the February 24 fire shortly after 2 a.m. - four hours before congregants planned to gather for the early Friday morning prayer session, the Tampa Bay Times reported. Within hours, authorities announced that arson had caused the fire, though they did not specify what evidence led them to that conclusion. At a press conference, Tampa mayor Bob Buckhorn called the fire "no different than the wave of anti-Semitic attacks on Jewish community centers and synagogues and bomb threats that have been called in all across the country."

    "Whoever did this maybe intended to discourage us not to be part of this community," Mazen Bondogji, a member of the mosque's board, said at a press conference. "We are part of this community and we will stay."

    The number of reported anti-Islam hate crimes had already been on the rise before the presidential campaign picked up steam in 2016. According to a report by the Council on American-Islamic relations, there were 78 instances of mosques being targeted - counting arson, vandalism and other destruction - in 2015. By comparison, 2014 saw just 20 such incidents. A report released last year by Georgetown University's Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding found that in 2015 there were eight instances of arson that targeted mosques, or businesses and homes associated with Muslims.

    FBI data shows that the number of reported anti-Muslim hate crimes surged by 67% from 2014 to 2015 (2016 data is not yet available).

    But in more recent months, the SPLC reported a rise in reported hate crimes following the election of Trump, who campaigned on promises to significantly reduce the number of Muslim immigrants allowed into the country.

    "Donald Trump's campaign and victory has emboldened people on the radical right (extremists) or people who simply hate certain minority groups to act," Potok said. "They feel that their views have been legitimized by the man who is president of the United States."


  2. #142
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    Anyone 'Who Slaughters Muslims' Will Be Paid Says Note At Silver Spring Mosque

    The CAIR Maryland Outreach Manager urges authorities to conduct a "prompt and thorough investigation into this disturbing incident."

    By Cameron Luttrell - March 1, 2017

    A threatening letter was found in the mailbox of the Islamic Education Society of Maryland on Veirs Mill Road in Silver Spring Monday night, according to reports.

    According to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), officials with the Islamic Education Society of Maryland opened the facility's mailbox and found an envelope with a note inside that offered an undisclosed amount of money to anyone "who slaughtered Muslims."

    The note also reportedly had a drawing of two individuals with "arrows piercing their hearts," according to police reports.

    CAIR, the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, called on state and federal law enforcement authorities to investigate this threatening note.

    "Many faith communities, including Muslims, are increasingly alarmed by the emboldened hate growing throughout our state," said CAIR Maryland Outreach Manager Dr. Zainab Chaudry. "We urge federal, state and local law enforcement authorities to conduct a prompt and thorough investigation into this disturbing incident and to bring the perpetrators to justice."


  3. #143
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    How a Crazy Idea About Islam Went From the Fringe to the White House

    "Ladies and gentlemen, we have to recognize that Islam is not a religion."


    Earlier this month, National Public Radio's Steve Inskeep asked Sebastian Gorka, the deputy assistant to Donald Trump, whether the president believes Islam is a religion. Rather than answering the question, Gorka lambasted the Morning Edition host. "It would be nice if you actually reported things accurately," Gorka responded. "This is not a theological seminary. This is the White House. And we're not going to get into theological debates. If the president has a certain attitude to a certain religion, that's something you can ask him."
    Gorka went on to say that the United States is not at war with Islam: "That would be absurd." Yet Gorka's refusal to answer Inskeep's simple question was telling, as was his insistence on reframing any discussion of Islam in political and ideological terms. "We're talking about national security and the totalitarian ideologies that drive the groups that threaten America," he said.

    Gorka's evasive comments nodded to a fringe concept that's been floating for more than a decade: the idea that Islam is not a legitimate religion, but a dangerous political ideology. This idea has gained new currency as Trump has elevated some of its adherents to the highest levels of his administration. At a conference last summer, Lt. General Michael Flynn, who would become Trump's initial pick for national security adviser, told an audience, "I don't see Islam as a religion. I see it as a political ideology that…will mask itself as a religion globally, and especially in the West, especially in the United States, because it can hide behind and protect itself by what we call freedom of religion." (Flynn resigned last month after lying about his contacts with Russia.)

    Last July, Steve Bannon, the former head of Breitbart who is now the president's chief strategist, told Mother Jones that Islam is "a political ideology." Previously, Bannon had mocked former President George W. Bush for calling Islam "a religion of peace," and suggested that there is an "existential war" unfolding between Islam and the West.

    Bannon's us-versus-them rhetoric echoes the argument articulated by Samuel Huntington in his controversial 1996 book, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order. In it, Huntington described a world split along "fault lines" between "hostile" rival civilizations, of which the "Islamic civilization" is the most troublesome. That narrative took hold among conservative evangelicals and the far-right fringe following the September 11 terror attacks. The recent strain of Islamophobia taps into long-standing Western stereotypes about and prejudices against Islam, says Khaled Beydoun, an associate professor at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Lawwho studies the intersection of race, religion, and citizenship. These orientalist views portray the Muslim world as a separate civilization, inferior to the West, and inhabited by a monolithic religious and political group. "These tropes, these stereotypes, continue to feed how Muslim identity is shaped and framed by Islamophobes today," Beydoun says. "You see this framing adopted by Trump, and more importantly, the brain trust he has around him."

    Painting the Muslims in such broad strokes feeds into the idea that Islam is not a true religion but rather something akin to a totalitarian cult. In 2002, the Reverand Jerry Falwell declared the prophet Mohammad a "demon-possessed pedophile." In 2007, Christian Broadcasting Network founder Pat Robertson said, "Ladies and gentlemen, we have to recognize that Islam is not a religion. It is a worldwide political movement meant on domination of the world. And it is meant to subjugate all people under Islamic law." In 2010, former Lt. General Jerry Boykin, then the executive vice president of the Family Research Council, stated that Islam "should not be protected under the First Amendment, particularly given that those following the dictates of the Quran are under an obligation to destroy our Constitution and replace it with Sharia law."

    "I think you see an alignment of these very right-wing Christian elements like Boykin viewing Islam as an illegitimate religion—they view the religion as not being a bona fide faith that should be protected by the First Amendment—aligning with nonreligious figures like Michael Flynn, who wrote this book Field of Fight," says Beydoun. In his 2016 book, Flynn wrote, "We're in a world war against a messianic mass movement of evil people, most of them inspired by a totalitarian ideology: Radical Islam."

    Another step toward the idea that Islam is not a religion is the notion that there is no such thing as peaceful Islam. David Yerushalmi, general council of the Center for Security Policy, once wrote, "Islam was born in violence; it will die that way." He also scoffed at Bush for his "ideological whim to build democracies among a ruthless people who believe in a murderous creed falsely labeled a 'religion of peace.'" In 2010, Bannon, echoed these remarks, saying, "Islam is not a religion of peace. Islam is a religion of submission." Robert Spencer, the director of the Islamophobic site Jihad Watch, wrote a book on the topic: Religion of Peace? Why Christianity Is and Islam Isn't.
    "There is this framing of Islam as less a legitimate religion, the position that Islam isn't a religion in the way we understand Judaism or Christianity or Hinduism, that it's more political in nature, and that Muslims must be viewed as political actors who are following the dictates of this political ideology," Beydoun says. "And if you buy that premise, the next step is, 'These individuals don't deserve the same kind of protections that Jews, Hindus, Christians, and so on do.'"

    In 2011, shortly after the controversy over the so-called Ground Zero mosque and the spread of a conspiracy theory that Shariah was taking over America, the Center for American Progress published a lengthy report titled "Fear Inc.," which documented what amounted to a cottage industry of Islamophobic misinformation. Prominent players include Act for America, a "national security" group that currently boasts Flynn as a board member. Another is Frank Gaffney, the founder of the Center for Security Policy, which has pushed the unlikely notion that Islamists are secretly trying to infiltrate the American government and prominent organizations—including the National Rifle Association—through a process he calls "civilization jihad."

    "These were people who were always on Fox News, being cited on Pamela Geller's blog, who were always on Sean Hannity, the Christian Broadcast Network, the National Review, and others," says Faiz Shakir, the national political director of the American Civil Liberties Union and one of the authors of the report. (Pamela Geller writes a prominent anti-Muslim blog.) "You had major political groups who were then taking this and getting it into the mouths of lawmakers. At that time it was Allen West, Herman Cain, and Michele Bachmann. We went through a period where we had really fought back and marginalized some of these voices," says Shakir. "They lost some credibility and respect in Republican circles—until Donald Trump came around. He gave them the biggest platform they ever could have imagined."

    This network also had links with what would become Trump's inner circle. Gaffney appeared on Bannon's radio show 34 times. Gorka, a former Breitbart editor, has regularly appeared atCenter for Security Policy events and on Gaffney's own radio program. Gaffney once defended the disgraced former FBI agent turned anti-Muslim crusader John Guandolo—who has said that mosques in the United States "do not have a First Amendment right to anything" and has helped draft anti-Muslim legislation.

    Trump himself has expressed some of the key tenets of the Islamophobic right. In late 2015, Trump proposed a total ban on Muslims entering the country, justifying the idea by citing a debunked survey commissioned by Gaffney's Center for Security Policy and conducted by Kellyanne Conway, who would become Trump's campaign manager. The survey claimed that 51 percent of those polled believe that Muslims in America should have the choice to be governed by Shariah, and a quarter agreed that violence against Americans in the United States "can be justified as part of the global jihad." A few weeks earlier, he stated that the United States will have "absolutely no choice" but to shut down mosques because "some bad things are happening."

    There have already been previous efforts to prevent mosques from being built using the "Islam is not a religion" argument. "Those are all real efforts," says Shakir. "They have been on the back burner and bubbling up for a long time, and now they have people in positions of power who can effectuate these radical ideologies that they've long held on to." Until Trump provides some clarity on his true views, people on both sides of the issue may assume that he is unwilling to publicly state that Islam deserves the same legal status and protections as other religions.


  4. #144
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    Man Breaks Into Mosque, Rips Up Copies Of Quran

    Another day, another mosque vandalized in America.

    By Christopher Mathias - 03/14/2017

    An unidentified man broke into an Arizona mosque early Monday morning and ripped up copies of the Quran.

    The Islamic Center of Tucson wrote in a Facebook post that the man, seen in surveillance footage wearing a University of Arizona T-shirt, entered the mosque at about 3:30 a.m. Monday.

    "He ripped copies of the Qur'an and threw them around the prayer room before leaving the building," the center wrote. "Thankfully no one was hurt."

    Two of the estimated 130 damaged Qurans #Tucson

    "The camera footage leads us to believe the sole intent of this individual was to damage the center's religious property," the center wrote in another post. "The Tucson Police Department responded quickly. As always, they were kind, courteous, and thorough with their investigation."

    The department's Sgt. Kim Bay told Tucson News Now that police were searching for the man seen in surveillance footage.

    "There is no indication this was a hate crime," Bay said, adding that the department wanted to question the man before speculating about his motives.

    "Although we are disheartened by this incident, we understand that this is an isolated incident," the center wrote. "The ICT has been a part of the Tucson community since the late 1980's and since then, the Tucson community has been kind, welcoming, and supportive."

    Imraan Siddiqi, executive director at the Arizona chapter of The Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, called on "local, state and federal law enforcement authorities to investigate this incident as a possible hate crime and for religious and political leaders to speak out against the growing Islamophobia in our state and nation that results in such acts of bigotry."

    The attack on the mosque comes amid a frightening surge in hate incidents targeting Muslims.

    Hate crimes rose 7 percent in the U.S. in 2015, according to the FBI, a rise driven largely by a 67 percent increase in hate crimes targeting Muslims. The FBI hasn't released hate crime statistics for 2016.

    Also in 2015, mosques were targeted for vandalism, arson and other types of destruction 80 times, a nearly 400 percent rise from 2014, according to a report from CAIR.

    In a seven-week span this year, three mosques in the U.S. have fallen victim to arson, according to authorities. And just this past weekend, a mosque in Michigan caught fire, although the cause of that blaze is unknown.

    Meanwhile, the number of anti-Muslim hate groups tripled in 2016, according to a recent report from the Southern Poverty Law Center, a rise the SPLC attributed to the anti-Muslim rhetoric of President Donald Trump.

    Members of the Islamic Center of Tucson have faced anti-Muslim sentiment themselves. "Terrorist, go back to where you came from!" someone shouted from a car window at the Islamic Center's president, Ahmed Meiloud, last year.

    And college students in neighboring private high-rise dorms are known to throw bottles and cans at mosque members. "Yes, these are students, usually drunken students, but these attacks aren't random," Meiloud told The New York Times. "We are the target."



    "Not a hate crime", yeah what else are they going to say when their own attacks Muslims.

  5. #145
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    What's wrong with this photograph?

    A PHOTOGRAPH of a woman wearing a headscarf showing apparent indifference to a stricken victim of the London terror attacks overnight has provoked a storm of outrage on social media.

    Twitter user Texas Lone Star kicked off the controversy by tweeting the picture with the comment “Muslim woman pays no mind to the terror attack, casually walks by a dying man while checking phone” along with the hashtags #PrayforLondon and #BanIslam.

    While the tweet has been shared hundreds of times, Lone Star Texas was quickly put in his (or her) place when another user posted an almost identical photograph — this time featuring a white man walking past a similar scene while “doing nothing”, which hasn’t attracted the same amount of attention.

    Not that it would have been appropriate for either passer-by to have inserted themselves into a scene which was clearly already under the control of professionals helping the respective victims.

    It is a classic example of how easy it is to take an image out of context and use it for the purpose of propaganda.

    Lone Star Texas is called out by user @rashedalyoha, who points out that nobody is shaming the man despite the fact that he “did the same thing”.

    Another user, Barbara Davis, said: “Can no one see why a Muslim woman wearing a head scarf might be worried for her safety at that point? The white guy not so much”.

    RogueBennyBen put everything in perspective with this comment: “who knows what they were doing. Plenty of people involved. May even have been told to walk on. Judgment not needed”.

    Australian lawyer, activist and social commentator Mariam Veiszadeh, who is Muslim, posted a heartbreaking tweet saying she avoided using public transport this morning for fear of being judged and that the response to the photograph validated those fears.

    More at :

    London attack: Woman in hijab pictured on Westminster Bridge was 'traumatized not indifferent', photographer says



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    Muslim Woman, Targeted by Islamophobes, Speaks Out

    This Muslim woman fought back after being falsely criticized for her response to the Westminster terror attack.

    video: https://www.facebook.com/Channel4New...54685476691939

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    Man Tore Up a Quran at School Meeting

    A man tore up a Quran and yelled hate speech at a school board meeting because the school allows Muslim students to do Friday (Jummah) prayers.

    video: https://www.facebook.com/ajplusengli...26961664112008

    The Texas AG sued to keep a Bible quote in school. Now he's troubled by Muslim prayers.

    By Avi Selk * March 19, 2017

    Every day at lunch, a handful of teenagers in Frisco, Tex., would pop into room C112, face a whiteboard and kneel for one of their five daily prayers.

    It was just a spare classroom, used for everything from teachers' grading to Buddhist meditation, school officials say. But Muslims at Liberty High seemed to like it.

    "Takes like five minutes, instead of having to leave school, get in a car and go to my parents," junior Sarah Qureshi told the school news site early this month.

    "This is the seventh year we've been doing this, and we've never had one issue," school principal Scott Warstler said.

    Last week, however, top state officials learned about the room - and suddenly Liberty High had a big issue indeed.

    The Texas attorney general's office - famous for once suing a middle school principal to keep a Bible quote on a door - sent the Frisco school district superintendent a letter Friday raising "concerns."

    "It appears that the prayer room is 'dedicated to the religious needs of some students,'" a deputy attorney general wrote in the letter, quoting an article written by an 11th grade student, "namely, those who practice Islam."

    In a news release the same day, the attorney general's office went further: "Recent news reports have indicated that the high school's prayer room is ... apparently excluding students of other faiths," the release said.

    That would be a constitutional violation, the Texas AG's office noted.

    And totally untrue, according to Frisco Independent School District officials, who say state officials didn't even ask them about the prayers before the letter ended up in Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's tweet.

    "This 'press release' appears to be a publicity stunt by the OAG to politicize a nonissue," schools superintendent Jeremy Lyon wrote in reply to the state. "Frisco ISD is greatly concerned that this type of inflammatory rhetoric in the current climate may place the District, its students, staff, parents and community in danger of unnecessary disruption."

    Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has often criticized what he calls anti-Christian discrimination in Texas schools. In 2015, Paxton joined 15 other states in opposing an atheist society's lawsuit to stop school board officials from reading religious prayers before public meetings.

    Paxton attracted national attention last December when he waded into a dispute in Killeen, Tex., between a middle school principal and a nurse's aide who put up a six-foot poster in the school with a quote from the classic animation special "A Charlie Brown Christmas" that read: "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior which is Christ the Lord."

    After the principal told the aide to take the poster down, Paxton wrote to the Killeen school district: "These concerns are not surprising in an age of frivolous litigation by anti-Christian interest groups ... Rescind this unlawful policy."

    When the school district refused, Paxton helped the nurse's aid sue, and won.

    Three months later, his eye fell on Frisco.

    We "recently became aware of Liberty High School's prayer room," Deputy Attorney General Andrew Leonie wrote to the schools superintendent - about two weeks after the room was profiled in the student newspaper. "Our initial inquiry left several questions unresolved."

    It sounded like the state had been investigating the matter, but school officials said they were blindsided when reporters started calling on Friday.

    "What initial inquiry are you referring to?" the superintendent wrote in his reply to Paxton's office, asking for evidence that the school was breaking any rules, and whether the state had made any attempt to find out before going public.

    A week before the attorney general's letter, Liberty High's principal had welcomed all students to use the room in an interview with KERA public radio.

    "All sorts of folks use it," school district spokesman Chris Moore told The Washington Post on Saturday. "Muslims pray, Baptists pray, Catholics pray, Buddhists pray, Hindu students pray."

    Moore said he called and emailed Paxton's office after learning about the letter, but had not received a reply.

    The Post asked Paxton's office what led the state to become concerned about the prayer room, and what inquiries state officials had made after learning about it. A spokesman for the attorney general replied with a statement that did not directly answer most of the questions:

    "The letter was sent to the school district via email prior to issuance of a press release," the spokesman wrote. "We sent the letter to clarify unresolved questions in the interest of protecting religious liberty in public schools across Texas (the same interest we sought to protect in the Charlie Brown matter)."

    But as of Saturday, school officials in Frisco were still trying to figure out exactly what Paxton's issue was.

    "We hadn't been contacted by right-wing groups, left-wing groups or in-between groups," Moore said. "Getting that question yesterday from the attorney general was surprising."

    Regardless, he said, the room would be open for prayer as usual come lunchtime Monday - as it has for many years.



    They call it "Christian persecution" when they can't have their bible in school, but then they can't stand it when another religion wants the same right. Hypocrites!

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    Islamophobe Tries to Burn Down Indian Store Thinking They're Muslims

    A man assumed a store's Indian owners were Muslim. So he tried to burn it down, police say.

    By Amy B Wang - March 12, 2016

    A Florida man who attempted to set fire to a convenience store told deputies that he assumed the owner was Muslim and that he wanted to "run the Arabs out of our country," according to the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office.

    The sheriff later said the store owners are actually Indian, appearing to make this the latest in a string of incidents targeting South Asians mistaken for people of Arab descent.

    Around 7:40 a.m. Friday, police received calls that a white male was acting suspiciously in front of the Met Mart convenience store in Port St. Lucie, officials said.

    Deputies arrived to find the store closed, with its security shutters intact - as well as a 64-year-old man named Richard Leslie Lloyd near a flaming dumpster.

    "When the deputies arrived, they noticed the dumpster had been rolled in front of the doors and the contents were lit on fire," St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken Mascara said in a statement posted on Facebook. "Upon seeing our deputies, the man put his hands behind his back and said 'take me away.' "

    Lloyd "told deputies that he pushed the dumpster to the front of the building, tore down signs posted to the outside of the store and lit the contents of the dumpster on fire to 'run the Arabs out of our country,' " Mascara said.

    An arrest report said Lloyd had been in the store a few days ago but got upset when it didn't carry his favorite orange juice, according to WPTV News.

    Lloyd also stated that he assumed the Met Mart owner was Muslim and that it angered him "due to what they are doing in the Middle East," the sheriff said.

    Firefighters were able to extinguish the blaze, authorities said.

    Lloyd was arrested Friday and booked into the St. Lucie County Jail in lieu of a $30,000 bond. His mental health will be evaluated, and the state attorney's office will decide whether the incident was a hate crime, according to the sheriff.

    "It's unfortunate that Mr. Lloyd made the assumption that the store owners were Arabic [Arabs] when, in fact, they are of Indian descent," Mascara said. "Regardless, we will not tolerate violence based on age, race, color, ancestry, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, homeless status, mental or physical disability."

    The sheriff also thanked those who called 911 when they noticed Lloyd in front of the store.

    A message left with Met Mart on Sunday morning did not receive a response.

    The incident appears to be the latest crime targeting people of South Asian descent. In its most recent report, the nonprofit group South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) noted there were 207 documented "incidents of hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric aimed at South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern, and Arab communities" from late December 2015 through Nov. 15, 2016, one week after the presidential election. That represented a 34 percent increase in incidents in less than a third of the period covered in SAALT's 2014 report.

    An "astounding" 95 percent of incidents were motivated by anti-Muslim sentiment, according to the group. "Notably President Trump was responsible for 21% of the xenophobic political rhetoric we tracked," it said.

    The group held a vigil on the steps of Congress on Friday.

    "At a time when South Asian, Sikh, Muslim, Hindu, and Arab community members are facing hate violence and harassment on nearly a daily basis, we need real leadership from Washington to stem the tide of injustice," Suman Raghunathan, the group's executive director, said in a statement. "Waiting nearly a week before commenting on a deadly shooting in Kansas won't do it. Issuing a second toxic Muslim Ban won't do it. We need direct action from this administration to forge inclusion, justice, and hope in this quintessential nation of immigrants."

    Last week, a 39-year-old Sikh man was shot while working on his car in his driveway in Washington state. The gunman reportedly told him to "Go back to your own country" before pulling the trigger, according to the Seattle Times.

    Last month, a man reportedly yelled at two Indian men to "get out of my country" before opening fire at a bar in Kansas. One of those men, 32-year-old Srinivas Kuchibhotla, was killed, while another, 32-year-old Alok Madasani, was injured. A man who tried to intervene, 24-year-old Ian Grillot, was injured.

    Adam W. Purinton, 51, a Navy veteran, was later arrested at a bar in Missouri, where he reportedly bragged about killing two Middle Eastern men, according to the Kansas City Star. Purinton has since been charged with first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder. The FBI has said it is investigating the shooting as a hate crime.

    Kuchibhotla and Madasani were from India but living in the United States and working as engineers for Garmin, the technology company. After the shooting, their relatives said they worried that the United States was no longer safe for Indians, citing what they called an increasingly xenophobic atmosphere.

    "There is a kind of hysteria spreading that is not good because so many of our beloved children live there," Venu Madhav, a relative of Kuchibhotla, told The Washington Post then. "Such hatred is not good for people."

    Kuchibhotla's widow told reporters two days after her husband's death that she had told him many times that they should go back to India but that Kuchibhotla was not afraid of staying. "He always assured me good things will happen to good people," Sunayana Dumala said then.

    Madasani's father told the Hindustan Times that there was an increasingly hate-filled atmosphere in the United States and that it was linked to the election.

    "The situation seems to be pretty bad after Trump took over as the U.S. president," the father said, according to the newspaper. "I appeal to all the parents in India not to send their children to the United States in the present circumstances."

    The White House said linking the crimes to Trump's rhetoric was absurd, according to Reuters.

    After being roundly criticized for not speaking out forcefully about the issue, Trump addressed the Kansas shooting in his speech to Congress a week later.

    As Sangay K. Mishra, author of "Desis Divided: The Political Lives of South Asian Americans," wrote for The Post last week, the South Asian community has suffered from "security racializing" since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, in which all immigrants from across a broad region are treated as potential terrorists.

    "The people I spoke with came from different religions, nationalities and cultures - but found themselves treated as similarly foreign and dangerous," Mishra wrote. "In public spaces like bars and airports, strangers and law enforcement officials were suspicious of their brown bodies. A number of young South Asians in Los Angeles and New York told me that in the months and years after 9/11, they were uncomfortable going to a bar alone. They feared being yelled at, called racial slurs or even physically attacked - which, in some cases, had indeed happened."


  9. #149
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    Jan 2007


    35 mosques have been attacked so far in 2017 — and Trump hasn't uttered a word

    Hadeel Salah Esmat first found out her mosque, the Islamic Center of Fort Collins in Colorado, had been vandalized when she saw pictures of the crime scene on the center's Facebook page. Glass windows at the 5-year-old mosque were shattered, and the prayer carpets spread on the floor were littered with glass shards, bricks and a copy of the Bible.

    "I always said I was so happy to be from Fort Collins because I never thought something like this would happen here," Esmat, a 19-year-old Colorado State University student, said. "It's scary and terrifying. This is a reality check."

    On Sunday, the Islamic Center of Fort Collins became the site of the latest act of vandalism against mosques in the country. The Council on American Islamic Relations has compiled a list of 35 anti-mosque incidents in the United States since the start of the new year, as of Monday. In other words, that's about one attack on a U.S. mosque for every 2.5 days.

    Anti-mosque incidents are on track to surpass the record set in 2016, when 139 incidents were reported, according to Corey Saylor, who directs the Council on American-Islamic Relations' department to monitor and combat Islamophobia.

    Despite the uptick in anti-mosque attacks and a spike in anti-Muslim hate crimes, the Trump administration, including President Donald Trump himself, has been silent about these acts of violence in the United States.

    Trump did, however, call Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau after a notedTrump supporter walked into a mosque in Quebec City and fatally shot six people in late January. On Feb. 28, Trump condemned anti-Semitic vandalism and an apparent hate crime on two Indian men in Olathe, Kansas, who were mistaken for Middle Easterners.

    But after attacks like the one on the Fort Collins mosque, which calls to mind the vandalism of Jewish community centers that Trump has addressed, the president has yet to speak out.

    Condemning anti-Muslim attacks is critical to decreasing these incidents, according to Saylor, especially since Trump's name has occasionally appeared in graffiti on mosques, and in letters sent to Islamic centers across the country.

    On March 19, an Islamic center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, received a letter addressed to "the Children of Satan," stating Muslims should pack up their bags and leave because "there’s a new sheriff in town — President Donald Trump." The letter ended with a warning that Trump will cleanse America just like "what Hitler did to the Jews."

    Before the incident at Fort Collins, four mosques across the country were set on fire over the course of seven weeks. The Islamic Center of Victoria in Texas was set ablaze just hours after Trump signed an executive order barring immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries.

    "When the president does not acknowledge these [anti-mosque] attacks as part of a pattern, and when he does not use the language of condemnation, or gives no response," Nazir Harb Michel, a senior researcher at Georgetown University's Bridge Initiative, said in a phone interview, "he keeps he story at a low level away from people's attentions."

    Saylor said the most drastic spike in anti-Muslim violence began at the start of the 2016 election cycle. Since then, Trump and his administration
    have perpetuated plenty of falsehoods about Muslims, ranging from "Islam hates us" to spreading the notion that Muslims are inherently more violent toward women. As long as anti-Muslim policies and rhetoric continue to be at the core of his administration's agenda, Saylor said the threat of Islamophobic extremism will continue.

    "The administration continues to put out rhetoric that enables the hate of minorities," Saylor said. "He needs to make sure there's a very clear message coming from his administration that all forms of bigotry will be rejected."



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