Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, which were carried out by hijackers from Arab countries, animosity toward Muslims sometimes has taken the form of opposition to construction of mosques and other Islamic facilities. National debate erupted over plans for a community center that became known as the “Ground Zero mosque” in Lower Manhattan.
In the last five years, there has been “anti-mosque activity” in more than half the states, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. Some mosques were vandalized – a $5,000 reward is being offered in a 2011 Wichita mosque arson case – and others were targets of efforts to deny zoning permits.
Mosque opponents often raise concerns about traffic and parking, but Daniel Mach, director of the ACLU’s freedom of religion program, says they can be “sham arguments” that mask anti-Muslim sentiment.