The deadly attacks in Paris and Beirut, which the militant terrorist group ISIS has claimed responsibility for, are already leading to an uptick in Islamophobic sentiment thousands of miles away. In the United States and Canada, Muslim communities are fast becoming the target of violent and racist threats.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is investigating several threats against mosques as potential hate crimes, according to the advocacy group the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
CAIR’s Florida chapter reported two separate calls to mosques in the state over the past several days that threaten to bomb or shoot up the places of worship. For instance, just hours after the attacks in France on Friday night, a mosque in St. Petersburg, Florida received a voicemail from a man who said he planned to shoot Muslims, including children. The man made reference to the Paris murders, saying, “this act in France is the last straw.”
“I [expletive] personally have a militia that is going to come down to your Islamic Society of Pinellas County and firebomb you and shoot whoever is there in the head,” the man said. “I don’t care if they are [expletive] two years old or 100. I am over your [expletive] [expletive] and our whole country is.”
CONTENT NOTE: The following recording contains graphic language.
There have been other recent acts of violence against Muslims living in North America, too.
In Orange County, Florida, a Muslim family found three bullet holes on the side of their home this weekend. According to the incident report, they told the police they suspect people are retaliating against them in the aftermath of the Paris attacks. Mahmoud Elmasri and his family were not home at the time because they were “out painting pictures of peace for the victims of the attacks in France,” the Orlando Sentinel reports.
In Michigan, police have been investigating an individual who posted a threatening message to Muslims on Twitter after news broke that ISIS had claimed responsibility for the violence in France. “Dearborn, MI has the highest Muslim population in the United States. Let’s [expletive] that place up and send a message to ISIS. We’re coming,” the individual tweeted on Saturday night. Cops in Dearborn say the person is “no longer a threat.”
Meanwhile, in Canada, authorities are investigating a case of arson at a Peterborough mosque on Saturday evening. No one was inside the mosque at the time, but the fire caused $80,000 in smoke damage and put the local Muslim community on edge. “This attack is very disturbing. The mosque is regularly attended by families with young children,” the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) said in a news release following the incident.
CAIR says these threats “fit a pattern of increased hate-motivated crimes and bias incidents nationwide targeting persons and property associated, or perceived to be associated, with Islam and the American Muslim community.”
Aside from violent threats stemming from radicals, anti-Muslim sentiment is also becoming evident in mainstream U.S. policy. A growing list of conservative governors have announced they won’t accept any Syrian refugees within their borders, citing potential safety concerns — a position that President Obama has sharply criticized, saying that it’s “shameful” to reject Muslim refugees and noting that Americans “don’t have religious tests to our compassion.”
Muslims around the world have condemned the recent terror attacks perpetrated by ISIS. The global Muslim community has long been harshly critical of ISIS, an extreme group that faith leaders insist is not representative of the fundamental tenets of Islam.