Mosques in the United States and Canada have been attacked by vandals after the recent violence in Paris, perpetrated by Islamic State militants. In Nebraska, an Eiffel Tower was painted on the Omaha Islamic Center, while in Houston and Florida, threatening phone calls made to area mosques have been turned over to the FBI for investigation.
Mosques in Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee, Ohio and New York have all reported hate-crime incidents. In Connecticut, the Baitul Aman mosque was damaged by a drive-by shooting that occurred hours after the news broke last Friday of the coordinated ISIS attacks in Paris. A Quebec, Canada man, wearing face paint, was arrested after releasing a video threatening to kill Muslims and attack local mosques.
Reports USA Today on Nov. 17: “In wake of terror attacks in Paris last week in which the Islamic State claimed responsibility, vandals destroyed a Quran at a Texas mosque, while mosques in Florida received threatening phone calls.”
Faisal Naeem, a board member from the Islamic Center of Pflugerville, Texas, where the vandalism occurred, said, “A few individuals who did what they did, they don’t represent 1.6 billion Muslims. They don’t represent me for sure and the Austin Muslim community.”
According to USA Today, Martin Schnitzler, 43, of Seminole, Florida was arrested after being identified as the person who called up a Pinnellas Park mosque multiple times and made threats to “firebomb you and shoot whoever is there,” and to “take the war to you and I’m going to have a big following.” He faces ten years in prison if convicted.
Anti-Muslim sentiment appears to be growing.
“The picture is getting increasingly bleak,” commented Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Washington, D.C.-based Council on American-Islamic Relations. “There’s been an accumulation of anti-Islamic rhetoric in our lives and that I think has trigged these overt acts of violence and vandalism.”
Hassan Shibly, from the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Florida, said the threats are not being taken seriously enough. “I don’t know what it takes for the FBI to consider a threat against American Muslims legitimate more than a person saying he wants to firebomb Muslim community centers,” Shibly said.
Muslims around the work were quick to condemn the attacks.
Shuja Shafi, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, a self-described “independent body established to promote consultation, cooperation and coordination on Muslim affairs in the United Kingdom,” dubbed the attacks both “horrific and abhorrent.”
“My thoughts and prayers for the families of those killed and injured and for the people of France, our neighbours,” Shafi said in a statement, according to USA Today. “This attack is being claimed by the group calling themselves ‘Islamic State.’ There is nothing Islamic about such people and their actions are evil, and outside the boundaries set by our faith.”