Crime

Threats Against American Mosques Double In 2017

| by Robert Fowler
A mosque in North Smithfield, Rhode IslandA mosque in North Smithfield, Rhode Island

More than 30 threats or acts of vandalism have been committed against U.S. mosques in 2017 so far, the Council of American-Islamic Relations has found.

On Mar. 15, CAIR disclosed that it had recorded 32 reported incidents against American mosques since Jan. 1, 2017, which is double the amount of similar incidents during the same time period in 2016. The organization had recorded 16 incidents between January through mid-March 2016, indicating that acts of aggression against U.S. mosques has doubled, The Guardian reports.

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CAIR found that 11 of the incidents in 2017 have been acts of arson or vandalism, while 19 were threats of violence.

"The sharp increase in threats and violence targeting Muslim places of faith and worship is alarming and reflects the empowerment of hate in the last few months," said Zainab Arain of CAIR. "Any religious institution, whether it be a mosque, church, synagogue, or temple, should be a place safe from fear and danger."

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There has been an ongoing trend of violence towards American Muslims. In November 2016, an FBI Uniform Crime report found the number of documented hate crimes against Muslims in the U.S. had grown from 154 in 2014 to 257 in 2015, an increase of 67 percent, according to Politico.

Several groups concerned by the trend have pointed to President Donald Trump's rhetoric and policies towards Muslims as an instigator of aggression towards American Muslims.

"Trump has seized on people's fears and anxieties," Engy Abdelkader, the author of a Georgetown University report that found an increase of anti-Muslim hate crimes over the course of the 2016 presidential election, told The Atlantic. "I think that has translated in a number of instances not just to hostility, but acts of violence."

In March 2015, Trump asserted the entire Muslim religion was a danger to the U.S.

"I think Islam hates us..." Trump told CNN. "We have to be very vigilant. We have to be very careful. And we can't allow people coming into this country who have this hatred of the United States."

On Jan. 27, Trump signed an executive order that temporarily halted the U.S. refugee resettlement program, placed an indefinite freeze on the admittance of Syrian refugees and banned travel on citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries.

On Mar. 6, the president signed a revised executive order that no longer singled out Syrian refugees and exempted Iraqi citizens from the travel ban after his original directive was met with a series of legal setbacks, The Guardian reports.

On Feb. 27, a Pew Research Center survey found that attitudes towards Muslims has shifted since 2002 along partisan lines.

In 2002, Pew found that only 11 percent of Republican-leaning respondents believed that almost all American Muslims were anti-American, while 36 percent believed that about half were while 40 percent thought few or none at all.

Meanwhile, only 8 percent of Democratic-leaning respondents believed that almost all American Muslims harbored anti-American sentiments, while 34 percent believed that roughly half did and 39 percent said few or none at all.

Pew found that in 2016, 16 percent of Republican-leaning respondents believed that almost all American Muslims were anti-American, while 47 percent believed that half of them were. Only 29 percent thought that only a few American Muslims were against the U.S.

Meanwhile, only 7 percent of Democratic-leaning respondents in 2016 believe that almost all American Muslims are anti-American, 34 percent suspect that roughly half are, and 54 percent believe that only very few are.

On Mar. 10, a Public Religion Research Institute survey found that perception of how much discrimination American Muslims face also falls along partisan lines.

PRRI found that 85 percent of self-identified Democrats believe that Muslims face a lot of discrimination. Meanwhile, only 45 percent of self-identified Republicans agreed that Muslims were facing a lot of discrimination.

Sources: The Atlantic, CNNThe GuardianThe Independent, Pew Research Center, PRRI / Photo Credit: Swampyank/Wikimedia Commons