NO! To Islamophobia

On March 9, a letter calling for planned violent attacks against Muslims surfaced in the U.K. The letter, anonymously mailed to specific addresses in several communities, claimed that “those who would like nothing more than to do us harm and turn our democracies into Sharia led police states” are overrunning the “white nations” of Europe and North America. It designated April 3, as “punish a Muslim day,” and outlined an escalating point system offering undisclosed “rewards” for various degrees of violent acts.

The acts listed include verbally abusing a Muslim; pulling the headscarf off a Muslim woman; throwing acid in the face of a Muslim; beating up a Muslim; torturing a Muslim using various methods; butchering a Muslim using a gun, a knife, or a vehicle; burning or bombing a mosque; and nuking the Islamic holy city of Mecca.

Making its way to the U.S. via social media, the letter, denounced by anti-hate advocates, inspired fear in Muslim communities across the country. Worried that the planned day would lead to hate crimes against Muslims, and anyone suspected of being Muslim, authorities were on high alert.

The Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), the nation’s largest Arab-American civil rights organization, called for the utmost vigilance and community readiness and issued a precautionary advisory outlining tips on how its members and the greater community could keep safe.

Serving the largest Muslim community in the country, Henry Ford College, through the office of interim president John Satkwoski, sent out communication to members of the HFC community condemning the letter, reiterating the college’s commitment to being a welcoming college, and outlining general tips for safety.

In Michigan, the planned day of violence against Muslims ended with no officially reported incidents. Though it originated from the U.K., and as abhorrent as its contents were, the level of fear that the threatening letter created underscores the severity of Islamophobia in America.

According to findings by the non-partisan think-tank, New America, since 2012, there have been at least 675 anti-Muslim incidents in the U.S. The incidents range in scope from anti-Sharia legislation, to opposition to refugee resettlement; opposition to mosques, Muslim cemeteries and schools; anti-Muslim actions and statements by elected and appointed officials; and media reports of anti-Muslim violence and crimes.

In the last two years alone, anti-Muslim actions and statements by elected and appointed officials, as well as media reports of anti-Muslim violence and crimes, have more than doubled. Though trends indicate some correlation between spikes in anti-Muslim incidents and major terrorist/extremist attacks, the biggest spike in anti-Muslim incidents occurred in the runup to the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The propaganda and anti-Muslim rhetoric that punctuated the campaign period incited far more anti-Muslim incidents than 9/11. The FBI’s hate crime report for 2016 also indicates that hate crimes targeting Muslims have doubled in the past two years.

As indicated by New America, media reports of anti-Muslim violence and crimes in 2018 include an incident at the Transit District 11 precinct of the NYPD, where police officers smeared feces and wrote anti-Muslim messages on the lockers of Muslim police officers, and an incident in Tempe, Arizona, where two women filmed themselves and their children vandalizing a mosque while making derogatory remarks about Muslims.

In addition to the anti-Muslim actions and statements by President Trump and his administration, anti-Muslim statements by elected and appointed officials this year include Thomas Kawcynzki (Town Council, Jackman ME) telling the Portland Herald Press that he opposed Islam because it is not compatible with western culture and Facebook posts by Minnesota State Representatives Kathy Lohmer (R-Stillwater), Cindy Pugh (R-Chanhassen) and Dave Sina (Chairman, 4th Congressional District, GOP), which claimed that Muslims were planning on infiltrating the Republican caucuses to enact a “Muslim agenda.”

Representing a diverse student body at a welcoming college in a free and democratic society, we at the Mirror News strongly condemn intolerance of any kind. We firmly stand against violence against others, and against any speech and action that incites such acts of violence against others.