Another series of anti-Muslim incidents, this time focused on mosques in California and insensitive remarks made by a school teacher, are highlighting just how rapidly the nation’s Islamophobia is growing.
According to the San Bernardino County Sun, two mosques in Hawthorne, a city in Los Angeles County, Calif., were vandalized over the weekend less than 24 hours apart.
Police say a vandal spray painted “Jesus” and a cross on the gates at the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Baitus-Salaam Mosque. A plastic grenade was also found on site. The vandalism was discovered by worshippers who came to the mosque for an early prayer around 5 a.m. on Sunday.
The FBI is currently working with the Hawthorne Police Department to investigate the incident, which they are labeling a hate crime.
Police were also notified of vandalism at the Islamic Center of Hawthorne. “Jesus is the way” was found written on the mosque. Members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Baitus-Salaam Mosque spoke out about both incidents, saying the public has the wrong view of Muslims following the recent attacks in Paris and San Bernardino carried out by Islamic extremists.
The Sun reports:
Sadiqa Rashid Malik, president of the Los Angeles East chapter of the ladies auxiliary for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, said she was very confused by the vandalism in Hawthrone.
“We’re a very safe and peaceful community,” she said. “We don’t know what could have inspired somebody to do something like that. It is a hate crime and it is someone who is not very well aware of our community.”
Zahid Mian, a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Baitus-Salaam Mosque, says Sunday’s vandalism is shocking, but he said he is more concerned that people are acting out of misinformation about Islam.
“We worry people are getting the wrong message from the shooting in San Bernardino,” he said adding that the Ahmadiyya community encourages its’ neighbors to visit their mosques and learn more about Islam. “We would like for people to come and ask us questions and learn about our beliefs and Islam. Many of us fled Pakistan and places like that to come to America so we can worship freely,” Mian noted.
“It’s kind of shocking because we all grew up thinking that America was the land of freedom and opportunity and everyone was respected for their beliefs.”
The anti-Muslim sentiment is going far beyond attacks at mosques, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
A Muslim student was asked by her teacher last Monday if she was carrying a bomb in her backpack. The teenager’s father, Abdirizak Aden, claims his daughter was targeted at Shiloh Middle School because of her faith. The 13-year-old was holding on to her book bag and wearing her hijab when the teacher made the remark.
Sloan Roach, a spokeswoman for Gwinnett County Public Schools, said the teacher wasn’t suspended for her comment because she didn’t mean any harm. The teacher, who remains unidentified, admits her joke went too far, but she wasn’t referencing “the things happening in the world right now.”
The AJC reports:
“The remark was not appropriate, but based on their conversation and investigation,” school officials don’t believe it was made with “ill intent,” Roach said. The teacher was trying to get the students to put away their backpacks quickly and made the remark to the student that was basically, what do you have in there, a bomb?
The school’s principal, Eli Welch III, conducted an investigation and spoke with the teacher and the parent.
Aden is thinking about removing his child from the school.