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15 Aug, 2012

Lessons Not Learnt: Arab Americans Report More Attacks on Places of Worship


Washington, DC (www.adc.org) August 15, 2012 – The American-Arab Anti-Discriminaton Committee (ADC), reports a dramatic surge of violent activity and harassment directed at places of worship, less than two weeks after the tragedy that occured at the Sikh Gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

In total there has been nearly a dozen cases of attacks and harassment since the Oak Creek shooting. Although none of the subsequent attacks resulted in death or bodily harm, worshippers were still at risk of sustaining serious or fatal injuries.

The attacks and harassment, which are outlined below, were directed at Mosques, Islamic Institutions and Churches. ADC continues to condemn these attacks in the strongest of terms, and calls for the immediate apprehension and prosecution of those responsible. ADC also calls on politicians and public figures who spread xenophobic, bigoted and irresponsible views, to immediately stop.

Within days after Rep. Walsh told a room of people at a town hall meeting that “Islam is a threat,” an assailant launched a homemade MacGyver bomb at The College Preparatory School of America — A private Islamic school in the 8th Congressional District of Illinois, represented by Rep. Walsh. The bomb exploded outside of the mosque, and did not cause any injuries.

It is not a coincidence that after the remarks by Rep. Walsh were made that there was a homemade bomb directed at an Islamic school in his district. The facts are clear — By proclaiming to the public that “Muslims are trying to kill Americans every week,” Walsh raised suspicion of the American Muslim community and incited fear. Rep. Walsh is responsible for the assailants actions, and would have been responsible for any injuries from the attack.

Muslim Americans are not the only ones impacted from the hate and bigotry. Shortly after vandals defaced the Mother of the Savior Church in Dearborn, MI, the Rev. Rani Abdulmasih wrote to ADC stating, “As a Christian Arab and Middle Eastern congregation, we have sensed the profiling in more ways than one. […] It is unfortunate that racial profiling, bigotry and racism continues to exist and flourish in our beloved country, as we live under a Constitution that supports freedom, justice and equality for all.”

Hate crimes such as these should not be ignored. Instead they must serve as a warning sign. Hate speech and rhetoric will only continue to add to the culture of violence, which will lead to more incidents and more attacks. ADC continues to call on all politicians and elected officials to change the national discourse, distance themselves from xenophobic rhetoric and put an immediate end to the culture of hate and violence.

Recent reported cases of violent attacks and harassment at places of worship since August 5, 2012:

  • Oak Creek, Wisconsin – A national tragedy which left six killed, and thousands of lives changed forever, when a white supremacist opened fire at a Sikh Gurdwara.
  • Joplin, Missouri – A mosque in southwestern Missouri was burned to the ground after after the second arson attack in a month. No arrests have been made yet.
  • Hayward, California – Four assailants, charged with hate crimes, continuously vandalized a Mosque, by throwing lemons, oranges, eggs, and firing BB guns. Mosque members are meeting with the boys to develop a relationship based on understanding and respect.
  • Ontario, California – Two woman were witnessed throwing pig legs on the site of a proposed mosque. Some locals oppose the construction/development of a mosque in Ontario. No arrests have been made, the investigation is pending.
  • North Smithfield, Rhode Island – The Masjid Al-Islam mosque was vandalized when a man ran up to a sign in front of the mosque and began head-butting it and running away with a piece of the sign. No arrests have been made.
  • Morton Grove, Illinois – David Conrad fired an air rifle at the Muslim Education Center, with 500 people inside the mosque for evening prayer. Conrad faces three counts of aggravated discharge of a firearm and one count of criminal damage to property.
  • Dearborn, Michigan – The Mother of the Savior Church experienced an act of vandalism and hate when its windows were smashed. The Church consists of a predominantly Arab-American congregation, and this is the second such attack in a week.
  • Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – Vandals defaced the Grand Mosque in Oklahoma City by firing upon the mosque with paintball guns. Those inside the mosque were afraid that the shots came from a real gun. The incident was caught on tape. No arrests have been made.
  • Lombard, Illinois – An assailant flung a “MacGyver” bomb at the College Preparatory School of America. The a bottle filled with acid and other unspecified materials was thrown at the school during nighttime prayer. No one is in custody for the attack.

ADC urges community members to exercise extreme caution in places of worship. For more info please read the ADC Community Advisory. You can also contact the ADC Legal Department at 202-244-2990 or legal@adc.org.