As much as we’d like to think the actions of Terry Jones in Florida represent an isolated and extreme form of anti-Muslim sentiment in this country there’s evidence to suggest otherwise. The Justice Department is investigating a series of incidents in at least four states where Muslims were the crime targets simply for being Muslim. The apparent hate crimes include the stabbing a Muslim cab driver in New York City and mosque vandalism and desecration in Arlington, Texas; Murfressboror, Tennessee; Madera, California; and Waterport, New York.
The volume of crimes targeting Muslims or their places of worship is significant enough that Attorney General Eric Holder met with Muslim and other religious leaders to discuss ways to stem this rising tide of hate.
The incidents have only escalated following the uproar over the Muslim community center project known as Park51. Minnesota Representative Keith Ellison, one of two Muslim members of Congress called out the opposition to the project as driven by Obama birthers and “proponents of religious bigotry” in an interview with the BBC.
Ellison went on to connect that opposition to these other anti-Muslim incidents but noted, with a degree of optimism, that racial and religious tensions have bubbled up in this country’s history and that the target of that fear–whether it be the Japanese, Irish or Catholics have all gone on to become fully engaged members of the American community.
Which, if you read The New York Times op-ed by Park51 project coordinator Feisal Abdul Rauf, is all the project seeks. The project is designed as a multifaith approach to cultivate religious and cultural understanding as a way to specifically counter radical ideology, which places the vocal and at times violent opposition to the project in a much clearer light.
photo courtesy seir + seir via Flickr