Anti-Muslim Activity Escalates in U.S. Following Paris Attacks

  • November 20, 2015

Following the terrorist events in Paris, hostility and attacks against the Muslim community around the country have escalated on the ground, online and in the public discourse. 

Paris Attack Muslim Backlash

Such anti-Muslim incidents and sentiment not only create an atmosphere of fear, but also feed into claims made by terrorist organizations such as ISIS of America’s inherent animosity towards Islam and Muslims. They use this narrative as a tactic to gain more support.

Below are reported threats, attacks and other incidents directed at the American Muslim community in the week following the Paris attacks:

November 13: Threatening calls to a Mosque in St. Petersburg, Florida
A man was arrested after he left several threatening voicemails for the Islamic Center of Pinellas County in Pinellas Park. He reportedly cited the Paris attacks and warned that he was going to go to “firebomb you and shoot whoever is there.”

November 14: Michigan woman tweets threats against Muslims in Dearborn, Michigan
A woman from Fort Gratiot was investigated by police after she posted a threat on Twitter that read: “Dearborn, MI, has the highest Muslim population in the United States. Let's (expletive) that place up and send a message to ISIS.”

November 14: Muslim student’s dorm room vandalized in Mansfield,Connecticut
A Muslim student at the University of Connecticut found the words “killed Paris” written under his dorm room nametag.

November 14: Shots fired at Muslim family's home in Orlando, Florida
Police are investigating reports of shots fired at a Muslim family’s house in Florida sometime Saturday evening while they were out at an event painting pictures of peace for the victims of the attacks in Paris.

November 15: Acts of vandalism at the Islamic Center of Pflugerville, Texas
The Islamic Center of Pflugerville, located in a strip mall near Austin, was smeared with feces and pages torn from the Qur’an. Mosque attendees discovered the vandalism as they were coming for morning prayers. Law enforcement is investigating this attack as a possible hate crime.

November 15: Shots fired at the Ahmadiyya Community Mosque in Meriden, Connecticut
The FBI and local law enforcement are investigating reports of multiple gunshots fired at the Baitul Aman mosque in Meriden hours after the Paris attacks. One of the bullets pierced multiple walls before exiting out the back.

November 15: An Uber driver in Charlotte, North Carolina, attacked
Police are investigating an incident where an unidentified passenger threatened a 40-year-old Ethiopian immigrant who was driving him home because he mistakenly thought he was a Muslim. The passenger struck the driver in the head, nearly knocking him out.

November 15: A Norman, Oklahoma, man threatens to shoot Muslims
A man from Norman, Oklahoma, called 911 and threatened to start shooting Muslims after what was done in France. When police arrived at his house he stood in the doorway with a gun in his hand and had to be subdued.

November 16: Islamic Center vandalized in Omaha, Nebraska
The symbol of the Eiffel Tower peace sign, which has circulated online after the Paris attacks a powerful signal of solidarity, was spray-painted onto an outside wall of the mosque in Omaha.

November 16: Protesters target Portland, Oregon Mosque
Protesters with loudspeakers and placards with phrases like “Jesus Saves From Hell” reportedly shouted obscenities as Muslims made their way into the Rizwan Mosque in Portland.

November 17: Threats to “shoot up a mosque” near Houston, Texas
A man, who uploaded a picture to Facebook of an assault rifle and ammunition, allegedly told a friend that he wanted to attack a mosque. The man never specified which mosque he wanted to target, but there is one close to his Sugar Land home

Such anti-Muslim threats and attacks are part of a larger culture of anti-Muslim hate that is also flourishing online. Examples of such violent expressions post Paris attacks include:

  • BareNakedIslam.com, a U.S. based anti-Muslim website, posted a video about burning the tents of Muslim refugees in France. Comments under the video by “members” cheered the attack on the refugee camp and one of the members wrote, “This is a good start but the most correct response is the Chicago way: they pull a knife, we pull a gun. They send one of ours to the hospital, we send one of theirs to the morgue. They kill 180 people in Paris, we burn down every tent village in France.” Another member under the name Angry Citizen wrote “Kill them ALL.” Others cheered the burning of “nasty islam rats [sic].”
  • A post on the personal blog of anti-Muslim activist Pamela Geller about Syrian refugees included a comment, “Execute the bastards with knives dipped in pig lard or blood!!” When reporting on the news on Paris terrorist attacks, one comment read, “CAN WE PLEASE JUST KILL ALL THESE MOTHER******S NOW? GET THEM OFF OUR LAND, OFF OUR PLANET, OUT OF THE UNIVERSE.[sic]”

The backlash against Muslims has also been fueled by a number of politicians that have made statements that equate Muslims with terrorists and paint Muslim refugees as a dangerous risk to the United States. Among the most egregious:

  • Donald Trump suggested in an interview that harsh measures against American Muslims might be necessary.  When asked in the interview if these measures might require “registering Muslims in a database or giving them a form of special identification that noted their religion,” Trump did not rule out such actions. Later, he told another reporter that he would absolutely implement a database for registering Muslims.
  • Senator Ted Cruz is advocating for a ban against any Syrian Muslims entering the U.S.  Cruz proposed that the country admit only Christian refugees, saying “There is no meaningful risk of Christians committing acts of terror.”
  • During a campaign event, Ben Carson compared Syrian refugees to rabid dogs. In talking about letting in immigrants from Syria, Carson said, “If there’s a rabid dog running around your neighborhood, you’re probably not going to assume something good about that dog and you’re probably going to put your children out of the way.”
  • After Mayor David Bowers of Roanoke, Virginia, requested that agencies stop providing aid to Syrian refugees seeking relocation in his city, he cited the use of internment camps for Japanese-Americans as a justification for his decision.
  • Jeb Bush said that American aid for refugees fleeing Syria should be geared toward Christians as opposed to Muslims. Bush proposed that the U.S. should take in a limited number of Christian refugees, adding, “We should focus our efforts as it relates to the refugees for the Christians that are being slaughtered.”

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