Some Muslims in Brooklyn are feeling a backlash from the unrest in the Middle East. The NYPD’s Hate Crime Unit is investigating several incidents, including racial slurs and even eggs being thrown at worshippers wearing traditional Muslim clothing.
Muslim worshipers gathered for Ramadan prayers after sundown Monday night. Some will pray until sunrise. But as they do, they will struggle with a growing sense of vulnerability.
“We don’t know what people are capable of doing, so people are still a little afraid,” said Linda Sarsour, of the Arab American Association of New York. Linda Sarsour says the city’s Muslim community is facing a new cycle of harassment and intimidation. It’s what she believes is the result of the deepening crisis in Israel and Gaza.
Early Sunday morning, witnesses say the men in a car circled the local Islamic center, waving Israeli flags and taunting worshippers. In recent weeks, several mosques have reported anti-Muslim graffiti and other forms of harassment. NYPD detectives are investigating.
The New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY) today called on law enforcement authorities and public officials to investigate an alleged attack on Muslim worshippers on their way to prayers at a Brooklyn mosque as a possible hate crime.
On Friday evening, witnesses say passengers in a Lexus drove by the Thayba Islamic Center shouting anti-Muslim slurs, including “This is for your Allah,” and threw eggs at several members dressed in traditional Muslim attire. A 70-year-old Muslim in traditional Pakistani attire and wearing an Islamic Kufi (scullcap) was reportedly hit in the chest by an egg.
A civil liberties group said Monday that an incident in which a woman was assaulted at the Meridian Mall on Saturday should be investigated as a possible hate crime.
Meridian Township police confirmed that officers responded to an assault that occurred at the mall Saturday but would neither confirm nor deny the description of events offered by the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI).
Dawud Walid, executive director for CAIR-MI, said two white men and a white woman surrounded a 26-year-old Muslim woman and tried to pull off her face veil and abaya, a full body dress worn by some Muslim women. They knocked her to the ground and shouted expletives at her, he said.
“We urge state, local and federal law enforcement authorities to investigate a possible bias motive for this troubling incident and to make every effort to bring the alleged perpetrators to justice,” said Walid.
York regional police are investigating a hate crime at an Islamic centre in Thornhill, as worshippers mark the holy month of Ramadan.
The sidewalk in front of the Ja’ffari Community Centre at 9000 Bathurst St., near Rutherford Road, was vandalized on Sunday night with anti-Muslim messages. The sidewalk has since been powerwashed, but the area that was vandalized is cordoned off with police tape.
One of the messages read “Arab go home” while the other one read “F**k Gaza.” A spray-painted star of David remains on the sign of the centre, and a spray paint cap was found at the scene.
The US Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have targeted American Muslims in abusive counterterrorism “sting operations” based on religious and ethnic identity, Human Rights Watch and Columbia Law School’s Human Rights Institute said in a report released today. Many of the more than 500 terrorism-related cases prosecuted in US federal courts since September 11, 2001, have alienated the very communities that can help prevent terrorist crimes.
The 214-page report, “Illusion of Justice: Human Rights Abuses in US Terrorism Prosecutions,” examines 27 federal terrorism cases from initiation of the investigations to sentencing and post-conviction conditions of confinement. It documents the significant human cost of certain counterterrorism practices, such as overly aggressive sting operations and unnecessarily restrictive conditions of confinement.
“Americans have been told that their government is keeping them safe by preventing and prosecuting terrorism inside the US,” said Andrea Prasow, deputy Washington director at Human Rights Watch and one of the authors of the report. “But take a closer look and you realize that many of these people would never have committed a crime if not for law enforcement encouraging, pressuring, and sometimes paying them to commit terrorist acts.”
Many prosecutions have properly targeted individuals engaged in planning or financing terror attacks, the groups found. But many others have targeted people who do not appear to have been involved in terrorist plotting or financing at the time the government began to investigate them. And many of the cases involve due process violations and abusive conditions of confinement that have resulted in excessively long prison sentences.
The report is based on more than 215 interviews with people charged with or convicted of terrorism-related crimes, members of their families and their communities, criminal defense attorneys, judges, current and former federal prosecutors, government officials, academics, and other experts.
A Muslim candidate for a Coffee County Commission seat says his incumbent opponent is making false statements about his religious and patriotic beliefs to smear his name in an attempt to appeal to voters.
In a July 16 letter asking District 15 constituents for their vote, Republican Commissioner Mark Kelly made the following claims about his Democratic political opponent, Zak Mohyuddin: “My opponent has expressed his beliefs publicly that the United States is not a Christian nation; that the American flag should be removed from public buildings because it is a symbol of tyranny and oppression; that public prayer should be banned because it insults non-Christians; and that the Bible should be removed from public places.”
When questioned by The Tennessean about how he knew the statements were true, Kelly was unable to cite any specific instance when Mohyuddin made such statements. He said he had heard it during private conversations with him.
Mohyuddin, a 25-year resident of Tullahoma, was deeply offended by the statements and is scrambling to assure voters the claims are untrue as early voting began Friday. “That is a very serious allegation. What he is saying is vile and offensive and completely untrue,” Mohyuddin said. “It’s an attack on my patriotism. I have never ever said any words even close to that in public or in private. It is absolute lies. It’s not like he doesn’t know me.”
Mordechai Kedar at Stop Islamization of Nations conferences in New York in 2012 and Melbourne in 2014
Mordechai Kedar, a lecturer at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University who likes to be introduced as director of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam (which is still “under formation”, despite having been first announced back in 2011), is a popular figure among US Islamophobes.
In 2011 Kedar wrote an article for Daniel Pipes’ Middle East Quarterly entitled “Shari’a and violence in American mosques”, which claimed that 81% of US mosques promoted “violent jihad”. His co-author was David Yerushalmi, the lawyer behind the movement to ban sharia law in the US. Kedar is also a regular contributor to David Horowitz’s FrontPage Magazine. But his closest links are with Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer.
When Geller and Spencer launched their organisation Stop Islamization of Nations in January 2012, Kedar was one of a handful of individuals who gave their immediate support to this enterprise, becoming a founder member of the SION advisory board. In September 2012 he was a star speaker at SION’s New York conference. In March this year he was on the panel of presenters at the 1st International Symposium on Liberty and Islam in Melbourne, which was jointly organised by SION and the Q Society. You’ll note that his name appears third on the bill, just below those of Geller and Spencer.
In between “invading” mosques and harassing elderly Muslims, the far-right group Britain First have been holding a nationwide “roadshow” aimed at boosting recruitment to their tiny organisation. So far they have held half a dozen meetings across England and Scotland (a seventh, in Bristol, was cancelled), with one yet to come in Belfast.
On Friday the fascists turned up in Coventry, where they were confronted by an impressive 150-strong protest (see photo). Inside the meeting, the numbers were rather smaller. It would seem that buying Facebook likes and generating publicity by threatening mosques doesn’t translate into any great popular enthusiasm for joining one of Britain First’s “battalions”.
Even fewer supporters appear to have turned out for the Swanley leg of the roadshow on Saturday. Not only that, but according to Britain First’s account, while the meeting was under way the police had a word with the manager of the venue, who promptly cancelled the booking and gave them 10 minutes to vacate the premises.
Having been humiliated by anti-fascists last month when they turned up in Cricklewood to stage a protest against the Muslim Brotherhood, the South East Alliance came back today for a rematch.
The dozen or so fascists that turned up (I counted 13 of them, although I’m told that at one point the SEA’s ranks swelled to fully 14 “patriots”) were put in a pen on Cricklewood Broadway, some distance away from the Muslim Brotherhood office they were targeting. They were confronted by several hundred counter-demonstrators.
After milling around pointlessly in their pen for a couple of hours, the SEA retreated back to Kilburn tube station under police escort. There were so few of them that they didn’t even get to use the road and their “march” was restricted to the pavement.
The SEA, needless to say, claimed a victory over the left. Even their own supporters weren’t buying that.