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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.


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