The year 2015 was perhaps the deadliest year on record for the seven-million strong American Muslim community, with 63 recorded attacks on mosques till the first week of December.
Tellingly, 17 of those attacks took place in November after the Paris terrorist attacks. At least six attacks and vandalism against the mosques were reported after the San Bernardino, CA terrorist attack on December 2nd when Syed Rizwan Farook killed 14 people and wounded 21 at a meeting of public health officials that doubled as a holiday party.
Anti-Muslim fever goes viral after the Paris and San Bernardino attacks. To borrow Andrew O'hehir of Salon, Muslim fever has spread through our national bloodstream and replaced all thought. Many U.S. leaders have unleashed discriminatory rhetoric in the name of counterterrorism.
Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum argued that the U.S. Constitution does not protect Islam the way it does Christianity. Donald Trump said that he would “strongly consider” shutting down American mosques and that he wants “surveillance of certain mosques if that’s okay.” Thirty-one governors said that Syrian refugees were not welcome in their states. Jeb Bush suggested that refugees should be allowed into the United States if “you can prove you’re a Christian.”
The president of Liberty University, Jerry Falwell Jr, urged his student body to start carrying concealed weapons with their books in case Muslim terrorists target their Virginia campus. “Let’s teach them a lesson if they ever show up here,” President Jerry Falwell Jr. declared at a Friday, Dec. 4, convocation before 10,000 people at the Christian college. Not surprisingly, Falwell was carrying a legal, licensed .25 caliber pistol in his back pants pocket as he spoke to loud cheers.
Andrew O'hehir recalls that there was a deeply unfortunate period of national debate just before Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation that was summed up in a memorable New York Times headline: “What shall we do with the Negro?” But in 2015, we are faced with a different question: “What shall we do with the Muslim?” There is endless iterations of this question all day long, on every news site and every cable TV talk show.
O'hehir pointed out that even before the mass shooting in San Bernardino had any clear link to Islamic extremism – which is not to say the nature of that link is clear now – we heard Sean Hannity darkly murmuring that the suspects did not have “normal-sounding” names.
If the San Bernardino shootings had been carried out by a white man named John Smith, he would be considered a lone nut even if he were a whacked-out evangelical Christian who thought he was doing the Lord’s work, O'hehir said adding: But if Syed Farook is a crazy Muslim dude who looked at crazy Muslim websites, then he winds up on the front page of the New York Post as a “MUSLIM KILLER” who represents the tip of a deadly iceberg of terror, and cannot possibly be a lone nut.
House Democrats introduce resolution condemning anti-Muslim bigotry
Following weeks of anti-Muslim bigotry and acts of hatred, over 70 Democrat members of the House of Representatives have introduced a resolution condemning anti-Muslim hatred, violence, and bigotry. This resolution was assigned to congressional committee on Judiciary on December 17, 2015, which will consider it before possibly sending it on to the House. Reps. Don Beyer (D-VA), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Eleanor Holmes-Norton (D-DC), Joe Crowley (D-NY), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Mike Honda (D-CA), Keith Ellison (D-MN), and André Carson (D-IN), along with 63 original cosponsors, introduced the resolution.
The resolution in part says:
Whereas the victims of anti-Muslim hate crimes and rhetoric have faced physical, verbal, and emotional abuse because they were Muslim or believed to be Muslim; Whereas the constitutional right to freedom of religious practice is a cherished American value and violence or hate speech towards any American community based on their faith is in contravention of our founding principles; Whereas hateful and intolerant acts against Muslims are contrary to the American values of acceptance, welcoming, and fellowship with those of all faiths, beliefs, and cultures;
Whereas these acts affect not only the individual victims but also their families, communities, and the entire group whose faith or beliefs were the motivation for the act; Whereas Muslim women who wear hijabs, headscarves, or other religious articles of clothing have been disproportionately targeted because of their religious clothing, articles, or observances; Whereas the rise of hateful and anti-Muslim speech, violence, and cultural ignorance plays into the false narrative spread by terrorist groups of Western hatred of Islam, and can encourage certain individuals to react in extreme and violent ways;
Resolved, That the House of Representatives
(1) Expresses its condolences for the victims of anti-Muslim hate crimes; (2) Steadfastly confirms its dedication to the rights and dignity of all its citizens of all faiths, beliefs, and cultures; (3) Denounces in the strongest terms the increase of intimidation, violence, vandalism, arson, and other hate crimes targeted against mosques, Muslims or those perceived to be Muslim; (4) Recognizes that the Muslim community in the United States has made countless positive contributions to our society; (5) Declares that the civil rights and civil liberties of all United States citizens, including Muslims in the United States, should be protected and preserved; (6) Urges local and Federal law enforcement authorities to work to prevent hate crimes; and to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law those perpetrators of hate crimes; and (7) Reaffirms the inalienable right of every citizen to live without fear and intimidation, and to practice their freedom of faith.
American Muslim leaders announce campaigns to address rising Islamophobia
On December 21, 2015, the US Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO), a coalition of leading national and local Muslim organizations, announced major educational, outreach and civic empowerment initiatives to address growing Islamophobia in America and to enhance national security through the promotion of freedom and justice.
Proposed USCMO initiatives include a drive to register one million voters prior to the 2016 presidential election, a "One America" campaign to enhance understanding of American Muslims and Islam and a "National Open Mosque Day" designed to help increase interactions between American Muslims and citizens of other faiths and backgrounds.
The USCMO are: American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), Muslim Alliance in North America (MANA), Muslim American Society (MAS), Muslim Legal Fund of America (MLFA), Muslim Ummah of North America (MUNA), The Mosque Cares (Ministry of Imam W. Deen Mohammed).
Denise Oliver Velez, featured writer of Daily Kos, argues that more and more Muslims will have to deal with hate crimes until we who are not Muslim stand up and fight back against the hate. With Western countries on high alert for terror attacks, nativist sentiment is increasing, in America, some politicians are stoking it for their own benefit, Velez said.
Ben Norton staff writer at Salon concurs with Denise Oliver Velez. He says hate attacks on American Muslims are spiking — and where’s the outrage? Ben Norton went on to say:
"Far-right “patriot” groups have organized several hate demonstrations in which dozens of heavily armed white men stand outside of Islamic community centers with anti-Muslim paraphernalia. Photos have circulated widely online of muscular rifle-clad white men following around Muslim women outside of local mosques.
"At what other place of worship would this be tolerated? If people with assault rifles stood outside of a Christian church or Jewish synagogue, Americans would explode in fury. Those with the assault rifles might be arrested for threatening worshipers; they might even be shot. When it is Muslims that are threatened, dare I say terrorized, by heavily armed Islamophobes, on the other hand, suddenly the problem is framed as a First Amendment issue.
"These constant attacks should have generated national outrage, but Americans have largely been quiet about the ever-growing violence against their Muslim compatriots."
Today the atmosphere of violent hatred is even worse than what the American Muslims experienced immediately after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
[Abdus Sattar Ghazali is the Chief Editor of the Journal of America (www.journalofamerica.net) Email: firstname.lastname@example.org]