Before the elections, we were told that our fears of a Trump presidency were unfounded, that we were overreacting, and should have faith in humanity. But in recent days, less than two months after the election, we hear stories daily that are horrifying and heartbreaking. We hear stories of Latino boys and girls terrified of going to school out of fear that they’ll be separated from their families. We hear stories of Muslim parents begging their daughters not to wear hijab in public for fear for their lives.
We hear similar stories of Jewish, African American, Indian, and LGBTQ adults and children not only afraid of bullying or harassment, but of losing their lives or their parents. This, we can all agree, is both enraging and heartbreaking. These fears are not unfounded. All of a sudden, we seem to hear about more hate crimes being perpetrated against various groups and communities. So the question remains, are there more hate crimes being perpetrated? Or are we just being more sensitive to isolated incidents and feeling insecure about the current political climate?
Editor of NOI’s Final Call discusses black liberation, Islamophobia and defends group against accusations of racism
Hatred of Muslims in the United States is nothing new, said the editor in chief of the Nation of Islam’s newspaper, the Final Call.
While Islamophobia came to the surface after the 9/11 attacks and saw a resurgence under President Donald Trump, Richard B Muhammad said the Nation of Islam has witnessed it throughout its 87-year history.
Followers of NOI were gathered for a four-day conference from 16-19 February in Detroit, the cradle of the organisation that advocates for black liberation under the banner of Islam.
The African American nationalist group and its leader, Minister Louis Farrakhan, have faced allegations of anti-Semitism, racism and homophobia. The Southern Poverty law Center says NOI has a “prominent position in the ranks of organized hate”.
The meeting of a far-right group in Kernersville has stirred fears across the state as Muslim leaders call on authorities to take action
Tom Jones, a soft-spoken man with white hair and wearing a slate-gray jacket, held up a copy of The Terrorist Next Door by the conservative author Erick Stakelbeck in the private dining room of a seafood restaurant in Kernersville, North Carolina, on a recent Thursday evening.
The presentation marked a coming-out of sorts for Jones, who had announced the event a month earlier at a regular weekly luncheon in nearby Winston-Salem that features different conservative speakers and Republican elected officials. About 20 people attended, representing professional conservative activists, GOP volunteers and militia types.
Reading from the text, Jones recited to about 20 of his fellow hard-right activists: “Brotherhood-linked organizations are establishing networks throughout the Bible belt.” Turning his head from right to left, he paused for dramatic effect and remarked: “I think that’s where we live.”
The Muslim Brotherhood, a culturally conservative organization founded in 1928 that briefly took power in Egypt after the Arab Spring, is the focal point of paranoid rightwing fears about a supposed Islamic plot to infiltrate and subvert American institutions from within and impose sharia law.
“A tactic that the Brotherhood has established over the years is establishing the presence of Islamic centers or mosques, which for them means a recruitment center for jihad, and forming a permanent foundation wherever they’re allowed to exist,” Jones said, continuing to read from Stakelbeck’s book.
The head of Al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayyeb, called on religious institutions in the East and West to act against Islamophobia, telling faith leaders at a Cairo conference that Islam “is not the reason for wars.”
El-Tayyeb was giving a speech to a conference on international freedom and citizenship in Cairo on Tuesday which is being attended by religious representatives from 50 countries.
El-Tayyeb argued that there are “obvious double standards” when dealing with violence committed in the name of Islam compared with that of other religions.
“It is very sad how a misguided group have strayed from the true principles of the religion and is mobilising the whole world against Islam,” El-Tayyeb said, arguing that if religious institutions around the world did not collaborate to act against Islamophobia, Christianity and Judaism would in the future face the same prejudice.
He also told leaders that absolving religions of any connection with terrorism would not be sufficient, and that religious institutions must deploy the principles and morals of religions to face the deteriorating situation of the world.
El-Tayyeb said that Al-Azhar avoids using the terms “minority” and “minorities” and instead prefers to spread the concept of “citizenship”, which he said was a principle applied by Prophet Muhammad in the city of Medina, the site of the first Muslim community.
The conference, which is taking place on Tuesday and Wednesday, will also see the participation of the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Pope Tawadros II.
At the end of his speech, El-Tayyeb praised Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, under whose auspices the conference was held, for holding the conference at such a critical time.
A fire started at a central Florida mosque early Friday morning was arson, local officials have confirmed. One of the side doors of the Islamic Society of New Tampa was found with bullet holes, with a rope pushed through to start the fire, according to a regular visitor who arrived at the mosque after hearing there was a fire.
Hillsborough Country Fire Rescue later confirmed that the incident had been ruled as arson.
Arshadd Malik, who described the scene, said he was pretty shaken up to have such an incident happen at a place of prayer.
“I am so upset about it,” he told CBS8. “This is a place of worship to God. You are trying to burn down a place of worship? Is this the tolerance that we have?”
“We are here to practice just whatever we want. Right? So you cannot hate people like that. Hating me? Hating God? Is this what the USA is? Is this what our constitution tells you?”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations has offered a reward of $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the individuals or persons responsible for the fire. The Florida chapter of the civil rights group said that the incident was a “heinous act of terror.”
Police in Davis are investigating another hate incident targeting the city’s Muslim community.
The UC Davis Police Department says that overnight Friday into Saturday, someone left a package of pork tenderloins on the doorstep of an apartment on Orchard Park Drive, off of Russell Boulevard.
Officers say the residents of the apartment are Muslim. The incident is being investigated as a hate crime because of pork being a prohibited food for people of the Muslim faith.
No suspects have been identified so far, police say.
The incident comes after a series of hate crimes against Muslims around the area. In January, a woman was caught on camera smashing the windows at the Islamic Center of Davis. She also left bacon on a door handle. She has not been identified, but authorities did raid a home last week connected to the investigation.
Earlier in February, a Roseville Islamic center was the target of vandals. Much of the building was left defaced with hate speech aimed at Muslims. No suspects have been identified in this incident either.