The United States has seen an “unprecedented” spike in Islamophobic attacks in the weeks since the Paris attacks, fueled in no small part by the ignorant, bigoted, and xenophobic rhetoric of numerous prominent Republicans eager to pin the blame on the entire Muslim community. According to the Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Muslim civil rights organization, the past weeks have seen more Islamophobic attacks than any other period since the aftermath of 9/11. CAIR released an admittedly incomplete preliminary report last week that identified 27 Islamophobic attacks in the U.S. in the two weeks following the Paris attacks, to which we’ve added another three clearly verifiable incidents.This works out to more than two incidents per day and 30 more Islamophobic attacks than attacks by Islamic extremists in the weeks since Paris.
As shameful as such a long list of incidents is, it is admittedly an incomplete portrait of the wave of bigotry that has swept across not only the United States but the entire Western world in the wake of the Paris attacks. Overt Islamophobic bigotry has long been a staple of American conservatives, as manifested through by the rabid fear-mongering of Fox News and other conservative media outlets. Now, however, Islamophobic hatred has entered the mainstream of Republican politics on an unprecedented scale as GOP Presidential candidates exploit the Paris attacks to peddle fear and hatred of the boogeyman of Islamic terrorism to rile up their easily-riled-up voter base. The condemnations of the attacks issued by all the major Islamic organizations in the country, to say nothing of the simple common sense that a group of violent militants aren’t representative of 1.5 billion people or their religion, have done nothing to assuage the imaginary politician-induced fears of an American conservative base whose increasing delusion mirrors that of its political representatives. The actual consequences of this incessant stream of racist bile on real American Muslims is either totally lost to the candidates and their proto-fascist worldview, or is far less important than the votes that such demagoguery can win them. And yet these consequences are all too real. Here is the list of what Trump and his ilk have wrought:
Meriden, CT (11/13/2015): An assailant fired several shots through the walls of a mosque. The prayer areas suffered minor damage but luckily the building was unoccupied at the time of the shooting
St. Petersburg, FL (11/14/2015): A man left a voicemail on the answering machine of a local mosque that threatened to “come down” and “firebomb you and shoot whoever is there in the head.” The man, who left his name, also indicated that he would kill children, saying, “I don’t care if they are f*cking two years old or 100.”
Dearborn, MI (11/15/2015): A local woman posted a tweet reading, “Dearborn, MI has the highest Muslim population in the US. Let’s f*ck that place up and send a message to ISIS. We’re coming.” Police soon located the woman and she made a public apology
Cincinnati, OH 11/15/15 — A young woman wearing a hijab was insulted and assaulted in a grocery store parking lot. An older man and woman called her names as she was checking out at the store, then followed her to her car. Once she got to her vehicle the man pulled on her hijab to get her to turn around at which point they continued to verbally accost her. She was able to get into her car and leave
Storrs, CT (11/15/2015): A Muslim student at the University of Connecticut student named returned to his dorm room to find his name crossed out and the words “killed Paris” scrawled across the door. The school is currently investigating the incident.
Arlington, VA (11/15/2015): An American Airlines flight about to depart for Boston was evacuated and searched by a K-9 unit because the plane’s crew believed that two “Middle Eastern passengers” were “acting suspiciously.” The passenger were removed from the flight and questioned by police, who found no threat
New York City, NY (11/15/2015): While waiting for a friend at the movies a medical student of mixed Haitian and Mexican descent was approached by a man who told him, “Stop standing there and texting. You know what happened in Paris. Guys like you texting and standing…that’s suspicious” The man then ordered him: “Take off your jacket. Open it up and show me what’s inside” before grabbing onto him and continuing to insult him and demand that he remove his jacket
Cincinnati, OH (11/15/15): A man insulted and attempted to run down a Muslim pre-med student at the University of Cincinnati. She said that as she left a Starbucks after a night of studying, a man began honking, cursing, and calling her a terrorist before gunning his car toward her. She said three bystanders pulled her onto the sidewalk before the vehicle could run her down.
Portland, OR (11/15/2015): Worshippers attending afternoon prayer at a mosque were met with protesters waving signs and t-shirts that read “JESUS SAVES FROM HELL,” and “Proud infidel.”
Orlando, FL (11/16/2015) — A gunman fired several shots into the home of a local Muslim family. The bullets penetrated the garage wall, and one was discovered in the family’s dresser in their master bedroom. Luckily, no one was hurt
Pflugerville, TX (11/16/2015): Vandals allegedly splattered the front of a mosque with feces and littered the grounds of the mosque with feces-smeared pages torn from the Quran
Charlotte, NC (11/16/2015) — An Ethiopian Christian Uber driver was assaulted by a passenger who mistook him for a Muslim. The man was repeatedly beaten and punched in the face by a passenger who threatened to strangle and shoot him “right in the face.” The driver eventually managed to stop the car and eject the passenger.
Norman, OK (11/16/2015) — An Oklahoma man called the police to say that he was planning to attack Muslims, saying, “[I’m] going to go out there and just start shooting anything that looks like a Muslim after what they did to France.” When officers arrived, he was standing in the doorway holding a gun. When he refused to drop his weapon, officers opened fire and disarmed him. He is currently recovering in a hospital in stable condition.
Omaha, NE (11/16/2015): Vandals spray-painted a picture of the popularized Eiffel Tower peace symbol on the outside of an Omaha mosque. The incident marked the third time that the mosque had been attacked by vandals in recent months
Baltimore, MD (11/17/2015): Four people of Middle Eastern descent were removed from a plane when another passenger claimed one was involved in “suspicious activity” — namely, viewing a news report on a smartphone. None of the passengers removed from the plane were charged with any crime.
Fredericksburg, VA (11/17/2015): Several attendees began shouting racist and anti-Islamic threats and epithets at a community meeting discussing the planned expansion of an existing mosque. Video of the event shows one man bellowing “Every one of you are terrorists” and “Nobody, nobody, nobody wants your evil cult.”
Fort Bend, TX (11/18/2015): A man was charged with making a terrorist threat after posting a message with the phrase ”I’m going to shoot up a mosque” on Facebook. He also posted images of himself with a handgun, ammunition, and a black military styled knife.
San Diego, CA (11/18/2015): A pregnant woman wearing a headscarf said she was assaulted by a man while pushing a stroller with her child in it. The victim told police she knew the perpetrator and that he had harassed her before
Austin, TX (11/19/2015): A Muslim woman returned to her car after going to the gym to find a note that read “Go away!” The note was scrawled on a schedule from the gym, leading her believe that a fellow gym member wrote it.
Philadelphia, PA (11/19/2015) — Two Palestinian-Americans from Philadelphia were told they couldn’t board a plane because another passenger was made uncomfortable when they started conversing in Arabic. They were eventually allowed to fly, but only after calling 911 and being held at the gate for 20 minutes.
Falls Church, VA (11/19/2015): A Virginia man was charged with leaving a fake explosive device at a mosque, as well as vandalizing the mosque’s gate to the tune of $200.
San Antonio, TX (11/20/2015): A man in military fatigues entered a mosque, cursed at and insulted worshippers, and wiped his boots on prayer rugs. He was subsequently arrested and a school affiliated with the mosque cancelled classes fearing a violent attack
San Diego, CA (11/20/2015): A Muslim student at San Diego State University was assaulted by a man who pushed and pulled her by her headscarf while making racist and Islamophobic comments and insulting Islam.
New York City, NY (11/20/2015): A postal worker was arrested on hate crime charges for spitting on two Muslim women, following them into a deli, and threatening to burn down their mosque. She was also called the woman “n**ger.”
Pittsburgh, PA (11/20/2015): A cab driver picked up a passenger who proceeded to rant about Islam and ask the driver if he was Muslim. When they arrived at their destination, the passenger left to retrieve his wallet, only to return brandishing a rifle. The cab driver sped away, but the passenger reportedly fired two shots as he left — one of which shattered the back window, and another which struck the driver between his shoulder blades. He is currently recovering in the hospital.
Corpus Christi, TX (11/20/2015): A letter was sent to a local mosque including a cartoon depiction of Muhammad — and action offensive to many Muslims — along with the instruction “Convert To Christianity Before It’s Too Late!!!”
Irving, TX (11/21/2015): A group of armed protestors in military fatigues protested outside a mosque, holding Ted Cruz signs and placards that read “Stop the Islamization of America.”
Lubbock, TX (11/24/2015): The front door of a local mosque was smashed and several windows and lights were broken.
Lexington, KY (11/27/2015): A local mosque reportedly received a death threat via email. Police responded by posting a guard outside the facility.
Hancock, NY (11/27/2015): The FBI issued a warning to the Hancock police department that Arizona resident and notorious anti-Muslim activist Jon Ritzheimer had threatened to travel to the state and confront a Muslim group in the area. He reportedly posted a video of himself cocking a gun and telling Muslims to “go f*ck themselves,” while also encouraging all Americans to “carry a long rifle” everywhere they go
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.