Partial Source: Teen Vogue, BuzzFeed News
March 1st, 2017; 2:39PM Eastern Standard Time
In the past seven weeks, four mosques across the country have caught fire, according to BuzzFeed News. Three of those fires have been ruled arson, authorities stated.
On Jan. 7, the Islamic Center of Lake Travis in Austin, which had been under construction, caught on fire. A week later, on Jan. 14, the Islamic Center of Eastside in Bellevue, Washington, burned.
Two weeks after that, on Jan. 28, several hours after President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries, a fire destroyed the Islamic Center of Victoria in Texas.
According to BuzzFeed News, the Daarus Salaam Mosque near Tampa, Florida, caught on fire this past Friday, marking the fourth mosque in to go up in flames in fewer than two months. Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, said he’s never seen anything like this, calling them part of a series of “dramatic attacks” against Muslims.
In 2015, there was a surge in hate crimes (against Muslims – one woman at San Diego State University and another at San Jose University), according to FBI data, as well as a recent surge in anti-Muslim groups, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The SPLC attributed the anti-Muslim group increase partly to Donald Trump’s “incendiary rhetoric.” In addition to these mosque fires and other attacks against Muslims, threats have recently been rolling in to Jewish community centers, and Jewish cemeteries have been defaced, as reported by multiple outlets.
“Donald Trump’s campaign and victory has emboldened people on the radical right or people who simply hate certain minority groups to act,” Mark told BuzzFeed News. “They feel that their views have been legitimized by the man who is president of the United States.”
At the same time, communities targeted by these hate crimes have also seen support. When the mosque in Victoria, Texas, burned down, Christians and Jews from the area came together to support the Muslim community and give them a place to pray.
“Look at Victoria and learn the lesson… as to how people can come together as one human family,” M.J. Khan, president of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston, said at the time, the Victoria Advocate reported.
Still, some people think that these incidents call for more vigilance.
“There are a lot more people who are in support of us building this back again than people who oppose us, but it takes one crazy guy to do something,” Shakeel Rashed, an executive board member of the Islamic Center of Lake Travis, told the Texas Tribune after his mosque burned down. “Everybody believes we need to be more vigilant. When we start reconstruction, we definitely want to plan the security of the place better, have more cameras.”