Hate crimes against Muslims and the defacement of mosques are occurring in record numbers in the U.S., in the wake of the Paris attacks and the San Bernardino shooting. Concerns for security are growing, and several mosques have hired armed guards or asked federal authorities for protection.
Since the San Bernardino attacks, where a radicalized Muslim couple left 14 people dead and 21 injured, anti-Muslim hate crimes have been on a steady rise. December 13, two mosques in Hawthorne, California were vandalized.
Zahid Mian, a member of the Baitus-Salaam Mosque, told the San Bernardino Sun: “A few of our members went to early morning prayer at about 5 a.m. and they found graffiti on the outside wall and ‘Jesus’ was written on the fence.”
After a grenade was found in the building, police cordoned off the area, but later found the weapon to be a plastic replica. Also on December 13, Muslims coming to worship at the Hawthorne Islamic Center found the phrase “Jesus is the way” spray-painted on the side of the building.
A more unsettling incident occurred on December 10, when Daniel Senteno, 40, brandished a knife and made threatening comments at a Muslim woman at a car wash in Chino Hills. Senteno is being held under suspicion of brandishing a weapon and making criminal threats, but prosecutors are expected to pursue hate crime charges.
According to data from the Council on American-Islamic Relations provided to CNN, American mosques and Islamic centers have been the targets for vandalism and harassment at least 63 times since the start of 2015. This surpasses the previous record of 53 incidents in 2010, amid controversy surrounding the Ground Zero Mosque.
With the disturbing rise in violence, mosques and Islamic centers throughout the country are upping security, with at least two; one in Phoenix, AZ, and one in northern Virginia, asking for help from the Department of Homeland Security. One center in Washington, D.C., reported security guards quitting their contract in fear of backlash attacks.
As with any kind of injustice, there are always those who will stand up and work against the terror of hate crimes. Pardeep Kaleka is a former Milwaukee police officer, whose father was among those killed in a 2012 shooting at a Sikh temple by a white supremacist.
Kaleka part of a growing movement in which American Sikhs and Muslims band together against hate crimes and discrimination.
“For us it does not matter who they’re targeting,” Kaleka told the Hindustan Times. “This time we cannot differentiate ourselves; when hate rhetoric is being spewed we cannot be on the side lines.”
[LA Times] [MSN] [KTLA News] [Reuters] [Hindustan Times]