American Muslims appear to be facing a perfect storm of hate.
Ever since the Paris attacks, carried out by extremists hiding behind religion, xenophobic bile has poured out against peaceful, law-abiding Americans who practice Islam.
Then came San Bernardino, and after it anti-Muslim rhetoric from the Trump campaign, and a steady stream of hateful incidents came rolling in.
A pig’s head thrown at a mosque, a sixth-grade girl having her hijab snatched off and called “ISIS,” bodega owners assaulted by attackers decrying their religion.
Those were just a few of more than half a dozen reported on Tuesday alone.
“It’s just pretty regular now that we’re getting reports of incidents,” said Ibrahim Hooper from the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Acts of violence
Early Monday, a red truck drove past a Philadelphia mosque. On its second pass, someone tossed something out the window. What looked like a pig’s head rolled up near the mosque’s door.
Given pork is forbidden in Islam, the gesture is particularly offensive.
Police are investigating whether the incident has any connection to a voicemail the mosque received last month, in which a male voice said: “Are you happy about what happened in France?” “God is a pig!” and “God is Pork!”
That phone call wasn’t the only insult connecting peaceful people with ISIS or terrorism.
Three boys reportedly attacked a sixth-grade Muslim girl in New York City this week, pulling offer her hijab and beating her up, calling her “ISIS” while they did.
In New York, at least one more victim took a beating recently, allegedly because he was a Muslim, Hooper said. Sarker Haque walked away with bruises, a black eye and cuts, after a man punched him saying he was going to kill Muslims, according to local media reports.
Sana Rashid wasn’t beaten but verbally assailed while at work as a pharmacist, Hooper said. She was wearing a hijab. A man called her a terrorist and told her to get out of his country, CNN affiliate WPIX reported. Rashid defended herself as a patriotic American, and told the man that she loved her country, too.
Then there is the trickle of threatening phone calls that come into mosques around the country. This week, Hooper heard about a threat phoned into a mosque in New Jersey.
Phone threats to CAIR
CAIR also gets threatening calls, Hooper said. One threat against CAIR’s office in St. Louis was so bad that police arrested the caller.
“We got so many threats lately,” Hooper said. He sighed in resignation. He has quit counting them. The anti-Muslim rants oozing with hate on social media — they are innumerable.
Hooper had hoped it all might abate sometime after the Paris attacks.
But after radical extremists — admirers of ISIS — opened fire in San Bernardino, California, with long guns last week, killing 14 people at a holiday luncheon, that hope vanished.
Hooper thinks that the political vitriol that followed the attacks has stoked the flames of hate even more than the attacks themselves. “It may not be so much San Bernardino but Donald Trump keeping it going,” Hooper said.
A lawmaker from Indiana has received a death threat because he practices the Muslim faith. Rep. André Carson believes Trump’s rhetoric may have encouraged them.
After the shootings, Trump called for temporarily banning all Muslims from entering the United States, warning there would be new terror attacks, if the country did not follow his advice.
“You’re going to have many more World Trade Centers if you don’t solve it — many, many more and probably beyond the World Trade Center,” Trump told CNN’s Chris Cuomo in a contentious interview on “New Day.”
Hooper is afraid Trump won’t stop the anti-Muslim rhetoric — because it is paying off for him in opinion polls — and that anti-Islamic attitudes in America are running so deep, they may take root for a long time.
“We don’t see anything that is going to make the trend line curve in a positive direction,” he said.
Even Muslims who have felt very safe, believing they could never be attacked are starting to see things differently. “Even this segment of the community is going, ‘Yeah, you’re right,'” Hooper said.
What’s worse is that it’s exactly what ISIS wants — for Muslims in the West to feel so threatened where they live that they either desert their faith or become open to radicalization, Hooper said.
ISIS is chalking up Islamophobia in the United States as a win for them.
By Ben Brumfield, CNN