News / USA

    US Muslims Face Prejudice at Home While Resisting Terrorist Recruiters

    FILE - A police officer stands guard at the Dar Al Uloom Al Islamiyah-Amer mosque — where Syed Rizwan Farook was often seen — in San Bernardino, California, Dec. 4, 2015, two days after Farook and his wife shot 14 people to death at a Christmas party.
    FILE - A police officer stands guard at the Dar Al Uloom Al Islamiyah-Amer mosque — where Syed Rizwan Farook was often seen — in San Bernardino, California, Dec. 4, 2015, two days after Farook and his wife shot 14 people to death at a Christmas party.

    Muslim activists in the United States say they are caught up in two simultaneous battles: fighting the Islamic State group and other extremists in their efforts to recruit Americans as terrorists, while also struggling against Islamophobia — prejudice and discrimination aimed at Muslims — in the United States.

    Highly charged politics in this U.S. presidential election year and the intensity of radical Islamists have forced Muslim community leaders to reorganize themselves to try to counter these sentiments.

    The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) reported that there were 75 attacks on mosques in the United States last year, the highest number ever recorded. The council said property damage and physical intimidation were involved in roughly equal amounts in those hate crimes.

    Nearly half of the anti-Muslim outbursts occurred after attacks that Muslim gunmen carried out in Paris on November 13 and in San Bernardino, California, on December 2.  

    Muslim leaders said mosques were targeted in some areas where no previous attacks had been recorded against Muslim houses of worship, even after the devastating September 11 attacks in 2001.

    Mosque desecrated

    One of these was in Philadelphia, the fifth-largest U.S. city, where a pig’s head was thrown at the Al-Aqsa Mosque on December 7.

    Marwan Kreidie, director of the Arab-American Development Corporation in Philadelphia, has an office in the mosque. The pig's-head incident — a gesture particularly insulting to devout Muslims, who are forbidden to eat pork — was an "extremely isolated" case, he said, "something completely unexpected.”

    Mosque leaders immediately cleaned the scene and filed a police report, but no one has been arrested in the past month.

    “The incident was a real potent example of Islamophobia — anti-Arab, anti-Muslim feelings — and it really hurt people,” Kreidie said.

    Out of prejudice, unity

    However, he added, desecration of the mosque may have boomeranged on those responsible, because instead of inflaming hatred against Muslims, members of all religious faiths in that Philadelphia community were united in condemning the attack, and they came together in a ceremony where they exchanged wishes for peace and shared food.

    Republican presidential candidate, businessman Donald Trump speaks at a rally aboard the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown in Mt. Pleasant, S.C., Dec. 7, 2015. He defended his plan to stop Muslims from entering the country, Dec. 8, 2015.
    Republican presidential candidate, businessman Donald Trump speaks at a rally aboard the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown in Mt. Pleasant, S.C., Dec. 7, 2015. He defended his plan to stop Muslims from entering the country, Dec. 8, 2015.

    The same day that the mosque was attacked, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump delivered his first speech demanding a “total and complete shutdown” of U.S. borders to all Muslims trying to enter the country.

    Trump said his decision to call for a ban on all Muslim visitors was triggered by the mass shootings in Southern California five days earlier, where American-born Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, a Pakistani national, shot 14 people to death at a Christmas party attended by Farook's co-workers.

    Hate travels cross-country

    The morning after Trump’s speech in South Carolina, police in Grand Forks, North Dakota, informed Ilham and Omar Hassan that their restaurant had been set afire overnight. The attack on Juba Restaurant and Coffee was recorded as a hate crime.

    Ilham Hassan and her family, refugees from Somalia, had been operating the restaurant, and an adjacent halal butcher's shop selling meat prepared according to Islamic standards, for about year. Sales had been increasing, and they were expanding the business.

    The Hasans were already acquainted with anti-Muslim feelings. On the day after the killings in San Bernardino, graffiti featuring the Nazi swastika symbol and the words "go home!" were sprayed on their window.

    A 25-year-old white American, Matthew Gust, has been arrested and charged in connection with the arson attack, but authorities said it wasn't clear whether the graffiti incident was related to the firebombing of the restaurant.

    Hassan said it was clear to her that both incidents were carried out “by someone with hatred.”

    Damage to the restaurant was estimated at $90,000, possibly more. But Hassan insisted that the family was not going anywhere and would stay in North Dakota.

    Unreported incidents

    Jaylani Mohamed Hussein, head of CAIR's chapter in the northern U.S. state of Minnesota, said, "We believe there are many incidents that have not been reported. In Minnesota, we have noticed a great deal of bullying taking place in schools" after the controversial comments by Trump. Muslim parents and their children have reported that other students have been "taking advantage" of the stormy public comments about Muslims to spread similar sentiments in schools.

    But Trump's anti-Muslim speech has had an effect beyond U.S. schools, restaurants and mosques.

    FILE - U.S. Rep. Andre Carson, D-Ind., says that "until we dismiss the negative notions of what it means to be a Muslim, we will still face" discrimination in the United States.
    FILE - U.S. Rep. Andre Carson, D-Ind., says that "until we dismiss the negative notions of what it means to be a Muslim, we will still face" discrimination in the United States.

    Late in December, the Islamic extremist group al-Shabab, based in Africa, released a video featuring Trump, evidently intended to help recruit American Muslims to their cause. The video included images of U.S. police beating or shooting black males, suggesting that American blacks could find solace in Islam.

    The video shocked the U.S. Muslim community. In Minneapolis, for instance, activists hastily arranged a meeting and urged their members to counter the messages it carried.

    Abdirisak Bihi, one of the organizers, said: "It’s a very desperate situation that they have to use a long and highly dramatized violent video to make recruitment, but I don’t think there is appetite for that among young people in our community anymore."

    Bihi’s nephew, Burhan Hassan, accepted an earlier recruitment pitch and joined al-Shabab in Somalia, where he later died. He also was featured in the propaganda video.

    Heightened fears

    Bihi worries about the effect al-Shabab's message may have on the community of Somali Muslims in the United States. “What I’m really concerned about is that they might scare our mainstream community again," he said, and make the older generation "more fearful of our young people."

    Divisions with the Somali community in the U.S. could result in "more unemployment and more anger in our young people, and that is how they [al-Shabab] recruit,” he said.

    Trump shrugged off criticism of his comments, as well as the use of his remarks in al-Shabab's propaganda message. “I have to say what I have to say,” he told questioners.

    Marwan Kreidie said words and negative tones have consequences: “These politicians should be more mature. They should understand that words have consequences. We need people in leadership positions to make sure they don’t accept any form of anti-anything — Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, anti-black, whatever.”

    You May Like

    Chechen Suspected in Istanbul Attack, but Questions Remain

    Turkish sources say North Caucasus militants involved in bombing at Ataturk airport, but name of at least one alleged attacker raises doubts

    With Johnson Out, Can a New ‘Margaret Thatcher’ Save Britain?

    Contest to replace David Cameron as Britain’s prime minister started in earnest Thursday with top candidates outlining strategy to deal with Brexit fallout

    US Finds Progress Slow Against Human Trafficking in Africa

    Africa continues to be a major source and destination for human trafficking of all kinds -- from forced labor to sexual slavery, says State Department report

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Anonimus
    January 11, 2016 9:18 AM
    If worse come to worse, will US muslims bear arms to protect our country against islamic terrorists, as they required by our constitution? I do not think so.

    by: PATRICIA ADAM from: nEW YORK
    January 11, 2016 5:28 AM
    Why are US muslims wanting Syariah laws in christian USA? syariah has been a failure in the middle east that is why they came here and now they want sympathy after all that killing

    by: Marcus Aurelius II from: NJ USA
    January 10, 2016 12:56 PM
    Relatives and other acquaintances of the IS assassins in San Bernardino had to have known there was an arsenal of weapons in that house. Those who attend Mosques where Imams incite hatred through espousing radical ideas that lead to violence have to know what is happening. They are not always reported to authorities. The government must know who is being indoctrinated on radical internet sites. What is going on? When we find out and figure out how to deal with it effectively to protect the rest of us, even Donald Trump would agree to sift out the jihadists and potential jihadists and allow other Moslems into the US. Until that happens, we must be on guard. There is clearly a hidden enemy within whose life's ambition is to destroy our society even at the cost of their own lives and as we have just seen at the cost of the life of their own mother. We have never shied away from this kind of threat before and that is one reason why we survived them. Politically correct is a fatal affliction.

    by: Anonimus
    January 10, 2016 10:44 AM
    Yes, I also wondering, why we do not see public protests of american muslim community against latest islamists killings in Europe and USA? This fact speaks for itself.

    by: williweb from: Phoenix Arizona USA
    January 10, 2016 8:17 AM
    Immigrants must at least be identified and tracked, and deported when appropriate. Along with freedom come responsibilities.

    by: Moses608 from: Kenya
    January 10, 2016 7:39 AM
    The problems against Muslims in the USA and indeed the whole world are jihadists.A few years back were the most respected people in any community.all of sudden the most hated.

    by: Xaaji Dhagax
    January 09, 2016 6:25 PM
    I think immigrant Muslims in America are dealt, somehow, with respect more than American born black Christians; innumerable of black churches were burned down across USA while few mosques were only vandalized. Only last year ten black worshipers were gunned down in their own churches while praying but surprisingly no Muslim suffered killing while in their mosque.
    America is very safe place for muslims, may Lord protect blacks
    In Response

    by: Kano Kirahiyo from: DC
    January 11, 2016 1:06 AM
    African Americans have got to go through racism from cradle to grave.

    by: Anonymous
    January 09, 2016 6:05 PM
    What did they expect? The Muslims have been pretty quiet all along and now they need to fight against the idiots who try to recruit their children to Jihad. If they want our respect and admiration they have to fight a lot harder than they have and they have to be seen to fight hard.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora