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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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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