Council on American-Islamic Relations offers reward in mosque fire

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PITTSFIELD TOWNSHIP, MI – The Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations is preemptively offering a reward for information, should a fire at a Pittsfield Township mosque be ruled arson.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is investigating the fire, reported at 4:59 p.m. Saturday, March 11, at a mosque at 5909 W. Michigan Ave. The address appears to be the Islamic Center of Ypsilanti, which also serves as a mosque, and Pittsfield Township detectives and fire investigators are assisting in the investigation.

Pittsfield Township Fire Chief Sean Gleason said Sunday there was no clear indication either way of whether the fire had a suspicious cause. Given the building’s use as a mosque, the department called ATF.

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Man Breaks Into Mosque, Rips Up Copies Of Quran

Another day, another mosque vandalized in America.

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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.”

“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.

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Arsonist Claims He Wanted to Run Muslims Out of America

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A Florida man is in custody on arson charges, accused of setting a fire at a convenience store he believed was owned by Muslims who he “wanted to run out of America.”
As frequently occurs in such hate-motivated crimes, authorities confirmed the business was not owned by Muslims, but U.S. citizens of Indian-descent.

Richard Leslie Lloyd, 64, of Fort Pierce, Fla., was arrested outside the Met Mart on Prima Vista Boulevard in Port St. Lucie, Fla., where a Dumpster had been pushed in front of the store’s doorway and set on fire, authorities said.

St. Lucie County sheriff’s deputies, responding to a report of a “suspicious person,” approached the suspect who immediately put his hands behind his back and said “take me away.” He later confessed to deputies his anti-Muslim views motivated him to attempt to burn the business down.

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Suspect in Texas Mosque Fire Feared Muslims, Investigator Says

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A man suspected of burning down a Texas mosque believed its worshippers were terrorists and may have been looking for other mosques to target, authorities alleged during a hearing pertaining to an unrelated case against the man.

Marq Vincent Perez, 25, hasn’t been charged in the Jan. 28 fire that destroyed the Islamic center in his hometown of Victoria, a community about 125 miles southwest of Houston.

Perez was arrested last week on a charge alleging he tried to set fire to a former friend’s car earlier in January, and during a hearing on March 9, prosecutors presented evidence that Perez was suspected in the fire and an earlier burglary of the mosque in arguing that he be denied bond.

Although prosecutors have repeatedly declined to describe the burning of the mosque as a hate crime, U.S. Magistrate Judge B. Janice Ellington cited testimony about Perez’s “involvement in a hate crime presently being investigated” as a reason for denying him bond.

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‘Get Out of America’: Middle Eastern Restaurant Attacked in Potential Hate Crime

A man in Salem, Oregon, allegedly spewed epithets while beating an employee of Al Aqsa Fine Middle Eastern Cuisine with a pipe.

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Until Tuesday afternoon, Al Aqsa Fine Middle Eastern Cuisine had scarcely received a negative Yelp review, let alone comparisons of its staff to Saddam Hussein. That was, until an area man allegedly burst into the beloved Salem, Washington, restaurant and began striking an employee with a pipe while spewing racial epithets.

Salem police have arrested Jason Kendall, 52, in what they describe as a potential hate crime. Kendall was not a customer at the time of the attack, but allegedly charged the restaurant when he spotted an employee who appeared to be Middle Eastern in the window. After allegedly hurling an “evil totem” at the employee, Kendall accused him of having a weapon and beat him in the head with a pipe while calling the employee a terrorist, police say.

Al Aqsa is a small, family-run restaurant on a tree-lined street near the city center. But when Kendall walked by the restaurant on what he described as a “warrior’s path,” he saw malice behind its windows, a probable cause affidavit obtained by Salem’s Statesman Journal alleges.

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Hate Crimes in US Rising, Particularly in Big Cities

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WASHINGTON — Hate crimes, including attacks against American Jews and Muslims, spiked in several key U.S. cities in 2016, underscoring an upsurge that started during the presidential campaign and has continued unabated, according to data collected by researchers at California State University, San Bernardino.

Previously unpublished data by the university’s Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism show that hate crimes in at least six major urban centers, including New York City, Chicago and Columbus, Ohio, registered double-digit increases last year.

Among them:

New York City notched an uptick of 24 percent in hate crimes, the highest in over a decade.
New York state had an increase of 20 percent.
Chicago saw a rise of 24 percent, the highest since at least 2010.
Cincinnati, Ohio, saw hate crimes jump by 38 percent.
Columbus, Ohio, reported an increase of nearly 10 percent.
Montgomery County in Maryland, adjacent to the nation’s capital, had an increase of more than 42 percent.
Seattle, Washington, registered an increase of 6 percent in malicious harassment.
While this is preliminary data, based on information provided by state and local law enforcement and government agencies, the findings represent an initial glimpse into trends in hate crimes in 2016.

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Muslim Hate Crimes: Hawaii Mosque Receives Threatening Messages Amid New Trump Travel Ban

Multiple hate-filled social media posts, emails and voicemail messages were directed towards members of the Oahu mosque in Hawaii amid the creation of a second travel ban, Hakim Ouansafi, the president of the Muslim association of Hawaii announced Tuesday.

“Killing Muslims is God’s will! You beasts will pay!” a man can reportedly be heard screaming in one of the voicemail messages.

The hate messages began Monday when President Donald Trump signed a second executive order barring citizens from six Muslim countries from entering the U.S. The Trump administration has maintained that the revised travel restrictions on people from Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen for a period of 90 days was created on the grounds of national security. The new executive order kept in place a ban on all refugees from entering the country for 120 days.

Ouansafi said the travel ban directly resulted in the hateful messages towards Muslims, citing one written message the Hawaii Association received.

“Now we have a president who knows that you guys are evil,” Ouansafi read aloud, “and we’re going to exterminate you.”

These hate messages haven’t all been left on social media or via voicemails. One mosque member, Zakaria Khairane, told local reporters that his 13-year-old-daughter, who wears a hijab, was recently threatened by a man on a public bus.

“When they got off the bus, the gentleman followed them with obscene gestures and verbal abusive language, which my daughter wouldn’t even dare to share with me,” Khairane said.

Hawaii was the first state to take legal action against the revised travel ban, with state attorneys filing a 40-page request to a federal judge to issue a temporary restraining order blocking its implementation Tuesday. State attorneys asked for the temporary restraining order to begin on March 15, a day before Trump’s executive order is supposed to take effect.

“This new executive order is nothing more than Muslim Ban 2.0,” Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin said in a statement Monday. “Under the pretense of national security, it still targets immigrants and refugees.”

Roughly 3.3 million Muslims who lived in the U.S. in 2015. The number of anti-Muslim hate groups in the country increased from 24 in 2015 to 101 in 2016, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported Feb. 15, 2017.