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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As a young British Muslim, I’ve been told to stay away from Google – why do I feel like a terrorist?

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A few days ago, a German school announced that it had banned Muslim students from using prayer mats in order to stop them from displaying their religion “in a provocative manner”. I read this with a sad sense of familiarity; it reminds me of the sense of fear and anxiety that I myself feel as a young British Muslim in 2017.

On a day-to-day basis, I am hyperconscious about where I am sitting in a café or a park, when I do my daily Quran reading — who around me might see the Arabic writing on my laptop screen or mobile phone app and feel threatened or incensed? Might they even call the police or refer me to a prevent channel, as has happened to others? If I was doing my French homework, I know I would hardly be noticed, but I worry terribly about the piercing eyes around me when reading Arabic, especially the Quran.

A few weeks ago, I was even asked to leave a mosque for reading the Quran. Yes, you read it correctly. I was taken into an office where several anxious old men had called an emergency Cobra meeting of sorts, and interrogated me about who I was, what I was doing and why I was there, because they had never seen me before. They were alarmed simply because I was sat on my own, in a corner, looking down at my phone.

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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.

Group calls for FBI investigation after Muslim teen found hanging from tree in Seattle

The Washington state chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations is calling for the FBI to investigate the death of a Muslim teenager who was discovered hanging from a tree.

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The incident, which the medical examiner initially ruled a suicide, involves 18-year-old Ben Keita, whose body was discovered in a wooded area of Lake Stevens in January. He’d vanished in November.

“Ben was a happy young man,” father Ibrahima Keita told Q13 Fox. He said his son had no history of depression or anxiety.

However, the medical examiner later changed the cause of death to undetermined. Two reasons were cited, according to KIRO. The rope used to hang the teen was tied 50 feet high in the tree, and a search of the area just weeks earlier had not turned up anything.

According to Washington CAIR, Keita was found hanging in an area that was searched at least twice by police before his body was finally discovered.

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High school student films anti-Muslim rant on Ottawa bus

OC Transpo said the incident has been investigated and the man has been identified

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A video of a man on an OC Transpo bus delivering an obscenity-laced tirade against Canadian Muslims is getting attention online.
The video, filmed by Lisgar Collegiate student Jawad Ghandour, begins with an inaudible conversation between passengers sitting at the back of the bus.
A man wearing a red hoodie then turns around and begins screaming slogans such as “The race war is coming!” and “Canadians won’t take Islam!”

The bus appears to be on the 97 route headed for Lees station.
The video then shows the man pacing to the front of the vehicle, where he and the bus driver have a brief conversation, the beginning of which is inaudible.
The man eventually raises his voice again: “I’m sorry, I will not be oppressed.”
The driver asks him to put out his cigarette out or get off the bus. The man eventually goes to the back of the bus, grabs a gray backpack and leaves.
On his way out he claims that he was assaulted first, and calls the driver a “muzzy sympathizer.”
The video has been shared hundreds of times and has close to 200,000 views on Facebook. A number of commenters said they recognize the man from similar erratic outbursts on public transit.
OC Transpo said that it’s investigating the incident and that it doesn’t condone the behaviour.
“As soon as we were made aware of the situation, we immediately began an investigation to gather all the facts. At present, the investigation into this occurrence is still ongoing,” said Gord Robinson of the service’s special constable unit.
Robinson said the man in the video has been identified and that information is being shared with the Ottawa Police Service’s hate crime unit.