Attacks against U.S. Muslims spike during Ramadan
The ruins of a mosque in Joplin, Missouri, smolder after a fire August 6.
August 18th, 2012
02:20 PM ET

Attacks against U.S. Muslims spike during Ramadan

By Yasmin Amer and Moni Basu, CNN

(CNN) - To mark the end of Islam's holiest month, Iftikhar Ali will head not to a mosque but to a convention center guarded by law enforcement officers.

That's because this month, during Ramadan, the mosque in Joplin, Missouri, burned to the ground. Its rubble smoldered for two days as a shocked Muslim community came to terms with what had happened.

"I think there are a few people who don't like anybody," Ali said. "They don't like a different color than their color or different religions."

Ali, who is the president of the Joplin mosque said the congregation rented a convention center so people would have a place to pray and celebrate Eid al-Fitr, the feast that marks the end of fasting for Ramadan.

Authorities are still investigating the mosque burning but suspect the fire was intentional. In July, a surveillance camera caught a man throwing an incendiary device onto the building that damaged part of the roof.

Ahead of Eid, Ali said he contacted the police and sheriff's department. They are sending extra officers Sunday.

It's that way across America, after a spate of violence at Islamic centers in recent weeks that included a homemade bomb and pigs parts.

At least seven mosques and one cemetery were attacked in the U.S. during Ramadan, according to groups that track such incidents.

"This is unprecedented in its scale and scope," said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the civil rights and advocacy group, Council on American-Islamic Relations.

He said Muslims have not been under attack like this since the backlash after the September 11 attacks and the immediate aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing when it was assumed the work of Islamic extremists.

Just Thursday, Ahmed Rehab, the head of the council in Chicago, received a call from a young man visiting his father's grave at Evergreen Cemetery. Someone had desecrated several Muslim graves.

The Prophet Mohammed's name was taken in vain and, a black marker scrawl on a tombstone screamed: "raghead," a derogatory term for Muslims that stems from head coverings such as  turbans and kaffiyas.
A few days earlier, police arrested 51-year-old David Conrad and accused him of firing a pellet gun at a mosque filled with 500 people in Morton Grove, southern Chicago suburb.

No one was injured but worshipers said one of the bullets flew only inches above a security guard's head, according to CNN affiliate station WGN.

Conrad is a neighbor and had previously spoken out against the expansion of the mosque. He was charged with four felonies.

In a third Chicago-area incident, worshipers at an Islamic school in Lombard heard a loud noise outside of the building during night prayers.

They then found a 2-liter soda bottle filled with acid. Police identified it as a homemade bomb.

No was injured in that incident, either, but on the heels of the carnage at the Sikh temple in suburban Milwaukee, and the burning of the Joplin mosque, Muslims in the United States were fearful.
The temple shooter died and his motives may never be known. But he was linked to white supremacist groups and Hooper said many people felt the Sikhs were mistaken for Muslims because of their turbans and beards.

In Murfreesboro, Tennessee, a new mosque opened earlier this month after more than two years of community protests, legal hurdles and vandalism. The board of directors planned for extra security.

When worshipers bow their heads in prayer Sunday, someone else will be scanning the room.

"Yes, we are very concerned because we have been the subject of vandalism, arson, bomb threats, intimidation, bullying," said Saleh Sbenaty, a board member of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro.
"You call it," he said. "Every single act of intimidation, you know, was actually inflicted upon us."
Hooper, the spokesman for the Islamic Council, said Muslims in the United States have been asked to exercise caution. The council released a tip sheet on security: know your emergency responders, post observers, report threats, install surveillance cameras.

Hooper said anti-Muslim rhetoric has been building for years, especially from groups formed specifically to fight against Islam in the United States.

"Anti-Muslim hate groups are a relatively new phenomenon in the United States, most of them appearing in the aftermath of the World Trade Center terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001," according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks such groups.

"Earlier anti-Muslim groups tended to be religious in orientation and disputed Islam's status as a respectable religion," the center said.

Hooper, for one, believes there's an "Islamophobia machine working out there."

"Eventually and inevitably, it's going to have an impact on the tiny minority of people willing to carry out acts of violence," he said.

Rehab of CAIR's Chicago office also blamed the spike in incidents on government officials who he said were involved in fear-mongering.

He cited statements made by Republican congressman Joe Walsh of Illinois, who warned Americans that "there is a radical strain of Islam in this country" and that radicals are "trying to kill Americans every week."

Justin Roth, Walsh's chief of staff, said that the lawmaker's comments were taken out of context and that Walsh is troubled by attacks on any people based on their religion.

Nevertheless, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee blamed Walsh for the homemade bomb incident.

"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 …" the committee said. "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."

There were other troubling incidents this month:

- In Hayward, California, police arrested two teens and charged them with committing a hate crime after worshipers said the boys threw lemons at them during prayer.

- In Ontario, California, pig legs were left on the property of an Islamic Center. Police still do not have information on who was responsible for the act, which was particularly offensive during Ramadan because practicing Muslims consider pigs unclean.

- In North Smithfield, Rhode Island, a surveillance camera outside the Masjid Al-Islam mosque showed a suspect breaking the building's sign and two vehicles later fleeing the property.

- In Oklahoma City, vandals defaced the Grand Mosque with paintball guns. Those inside feared the shots came from a real gun.
In Joplin, the torched mosque's 90 congregants invited 300 other people to join them Sunday for Eid.

"I still feel secure," said Ali, the mosque president, though he knows a pall has been cast by all the attacks.

He said the attacks on his community are instigated by a few ignorant people. He came to these shores from Pakistan 23 years ago and still believes in the principles of this nation.

"This is un-American," he said of the mosque fire. "I'm not afraid of any neighbors. I feel more secure here in America than anywhere else in the world."

He said all Muslims have a right to practice their faith without fear.

On this Eid, that may not happen in some houses of worship in the United States.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story quoted a statement from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee that incorrectly said the site of an apparent anti-Muslim incident is in the political district of U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh, R-Illinois. The school where the incident occurred currently is in a district adjacent to Walsh's.


Filed under: Faith • Islam • Ramadan • United States • Violence

soundoff (177 Responses)
  1. Sara

    I wonder what CNN is trying to achieve with this drivel. That people suddenly like muslims and feel sorry for them? Not gonna happen. Ever. People know islam and what the true intentions of muslims are: establishing islam world wide and subjugating all non-muslims. The only thing that will happen is a big war between muslims and the rest of the planet, including here in the US. Consider it spring cleaning.

    August 20, 2012 at 12:57 am |
    • sam stone

      Sarah: Shove your bigotry up your a$$

      August 20, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • myweightinwords

      The average American Muslim has no desire to convert you or subjugate you. Like most Americans, they want a chance at a happy life, to live in the freedom guaranteed by the US Constituition. Nothing more. Nothing less.

      You are interpreting your irrational fear into some non-existent motive and laying it on top of a label that you do not even begin to understand.

      August 20, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • Huebert

      I love the outpouring of "Fcuk you" that gets leveled at xenophobic comments like Sara's. It makes me proud to be an American.

      August 20, 2012 at 11:05 am |
  2. Jack

    Hello folks. Everyone is cordially invited to visit – thestarofkaduri.com

    August 19, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
  3. WonderBird16

    As a young Muslim, it's particularly disheartening to hear of such tragedies because my demographic has lived the majority of our lives (that we remember anyway) in the post-9/11 tragedy. I was in Kindergarten when the Twin Towers were bombed, and I can't remember a time when members of my faith weren't targeted for their religious beliefs.
    Many people misconstrue the true nature of Islam to be violent and bent on world domination. While Muslims are encouraged to spread their faith, they are required to do so peacefully. Many cite the wars that were fought 1,000, 800, even 500 years ago as proof that Muslims DO want to spread Islam violently, but that was a different time with different reasons for war. If you read up on history, you will find that many non-Muslim rulers in the Holy Roman Empire and Byzantine Empire were not tolerant of other faiths such as Jews, Muslims, and pagans. Yes, Muslims conquered the Byzantines and took Spain and North Africa as well as Persia and India, but for the most part, the caliphate ruled justly and allowed freedom of worship (albeit with a tax), but still, that's better than not being allowed to worship at all which had been the case before. In any case, you can't cite an 800 year old conquest as an excuse for violence today.
    That said, I sincerely hope anyone reading this will not blindly hate Muslims and Islam because of what they have heard and not what they have seen. People insult Allah and say we are violent, but how can our god be evil when he is the same god as that of Christians and Jews?? We don't believe in the "trinity," but Allah is the equivalent to whom Christians call the Father. Indeed, many Arab Christians called God "Allah" as well. Yes, we believe in Jesus and Moses, we say Adam and Eve were the first humans, we agree on many aspects of religion, but yet we hate each other. It makes no sense to me now, and I doubt it ever will.
    Eid Mubarak to you all, and I pray you will be blind of the ignorance out there and see Islam for what it truly is: a peaceful religion with peaceful followers. 🙂

    August 19, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
    • Judywire

      Jesus Christ is the only way!

      August 20, 2012 at 12:15 am |
    • Sayonara

      Please leave our country.

      August 20, 2012 at 12:50 am |
    • Steve-O

      Huuhh? "peaceful religion with peaceful followers"? What planet do you live on?

      August 20, 2012 at 1:42 am |
  4. paperjihad

    Reblogged this on Paper Jihad.

    August 19, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
    • RufusVonDufus

      You know what they say, "There ain't no doubt about it, God bless the U.S.A." Muslims are basically useless!

      August 19, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
  5. krm1007 ©™

    Ramdan is a month of (forced) fast and you know hunger makes a criminal of any man.

    August 19, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
    • krm1007 ©™

      Don't get me for a racist, I am Pakistani Sunni muslim and when I am hungry (I hate Ramzan fasting, some stupiddd call it Ramdan) I feel like exploding.

      August 19, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
  6. ug

    I would like to shake the hand of the people who did this...thank you.

    August 19, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • Tim Tebow

      We should take a shower together.

      August 19, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • Joe6pack

      Agree. They did the right thing. Maybe more will do the same.

      August 20, 2012 at 12:51 am |
  7. Mona

    I have never shaved my taco. It is like nam down there. Might need some agent orange to find it.

    August 19, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  8. Mona

    I suspect that a lot of these so called attacks are non existent or perpetrated by muslims to get,attention. After all, they will lie to non muslim faces with greatnease.

    August 19, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • midwest rail

      I want to eat your butthole.

      August 19, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • Shakira

      I mean of course, its not like just say oh 40 years ago White Christians were not burning down Churches of Blacks right? That didn't happen thus this is all one big conspiracy in the Islamic Community across the country. Get a clue and get your head out of the sandbox.

      August 19, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
    • Flamespeak


      It is far more common than not that things like this and blatant plastering of religious symbols of hate are committed by the 'victims'.

      I wish it wasn't true, as it takes away from the severity of the times when a legitimate cases of such acts occur and puts the seed of doubt into the minds of the common bystander, but this is reality.

      August 19, 2012 at 11:59 pm |
  9. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things.

    August 19, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
    • save the world and slap some sense into a christard today!

      Prayer gives me cramps and makes me go p00py.

      Atheism keeps me regular. Fact.

      August 19, 2012 at 11:16 pm |
  10. midwest rail

    I beat off to old holocaust footage.

    August 19, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • midwest rail

      If you'd post with your own screen name, I'm quite sure your statement is believable, faux Christian.

      August 19, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  11. jamesehorn

    There are consequences to fascist Mohammedan barbarians trying to colonize a civilized nation.

    August 19, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • Shakira

      I don't even know where to being with your ignorant diatribe its so moronic.

      August 19, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
  12. Truth

    F-U-C-K Islam

    Islamic nations kills and cut head off those who leave Islam or convert to another religion.

    Being gay is death sentence

    Women are treated like s.h.i.t

    August 19, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • tallulah13

      LIAR! we have never killed anybody in the name of religion. Did you even read this article?potty mouth

      August 19, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • Lameness Spotter


      But you LIE by hijacking the name of a regular, rational (atheist) poster - tallulah13.

      August 19, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Here we go again. I have not been on my computer for almost an hour. This wasn't me. I have never made it a secret that I am an atheist.

      There is a person who "borrows" my screen name to post pro-muslim sentiments. I don't know why they lack the courage to use their own anonymous screen name, but some people choose to be dishonest cowards.

      August 19, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Thank you, Spotter.

      August 19, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • Mona


      August 19, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • Shakira

      Christianity has never killed anyone who left the flock right? Evangelical Christians don't want Gays to go away or be put to death right? Women are not treated like crap but many Evangelicals right? You might want to rethink your hypocritical statement.

      August 19, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
    • myweightinwords

      Islamic nations kills and cut head off those who leave Islam or convert to another religion. Being gay is death sentence
      Women are treated like s.h.i.t

      I have never understood this argument. We should treat Muslim Americans like dirt because Muslims somewhere else kill people who don't believe like they do? How is that even in the same neighborhood as morality?

      August 20, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • JWT

      We should be setting the standards of ethical treatment.

      August 20, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
  13. Reality

    Only for the new members of this blog:

    A safe and easy solution for everyone:

    From the studies of Armstrong, Rushdie, Hirsi Ali, Richardson and Bayhaqi--–

    The Five Steps To Deprogram 1400 Years of Islamic Myths:

    ( –The Steps take less than two minutes to finish- simply amazing, two minutes to bring peace and rationality to over one billion lost souls- Priceless!!!)

    Are you ready?

    Using "The 77 Branches of Islamic "faith" a collection compiled by Imam Bayhaqi as a starting point. In it, he explains the essential virtues that reflect true "faith" (iman) through related Qur’anic verses and Prophetic sayings." i.e. a nice summary of the Koran and Islamic beliefs.

    The First Five of the 77 Branches:

    "1. Belief in Allah"

    aka as God, Yahweh, Zeus, Jehovah, Mother Nature, etc. should be added to your self-cleansing neurons.

    "2. To believe that everything other than Allah was non-existent. Thereafter, Allah Most High created these things and subsequently they came into existence."

    Evolution and the Big Bang or the "Gi-b G-nab" (when the universe starts to recycle) are more plausible and the "akas" for Allah should be included if you continue to be a "crea-tionist".

    "3. To believe in the existence of angels."

    A major item for neuron cleansing. Angels/de-vils are the mythical creations of ancient civilizations, e.g. Hitt-ites, to explain/define natural events, contacts with their gods, big birds, sudden winds, protectors during the dark nights, etc. No "pretty/ug-ly wingy thingies" ever visited or talked to Mohammed, Jesus, Mary or Joseph or Joe Smith. Today we would classify angels as f–airies and "tin–ker be-lls". Modern de-vils are classified as the de-mons of the de-mented.

    "4. To believe that all the heavenly books that were sent to the different prophets are true. However, apart from the Quran, all other books are not valid anymore."

    Another major item to delete. There are no books written in the spirit state of Heaven (if there is one) just as there are no angels to write/publish/distribute them. The Koran, OT, NT etc. are simply books written by humans for humans.

    Prophets were invented by ancient scribes typically to keep the un-educated masses in line. Today we call them for-tune tellers.

    Prophecies are also invali-dated by the natural/God/Allah gifts of Free Will and Future.

    "5. To believe that all the prophets are true. However, we are commanded to follow the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings
    be upon him) alone."

    Mohammed spent thirty days "fasting" (the Ramadan legend) in a hot cave before his first contact with Allah aka God etc. via a "pretty wingy thingy". Common sense demands a neuron deletion of #5. #5 is also the major source of Islamic vi-olence i.e. turning Mohammed's "fast, hunger-driven" hallu-cinations into horrible reality for unbelievers.

    Walk these Five Steps and we guarantee a complete recovery from your Islamic ways!!!!

    Unfortunately, there are not many Muslim commentators/readers on this blog so the "two-minute" cure is not getting to those who need it. If you have a Muslim friend, send him a copy and help save the world.

    Analogous steps are available at your request for deprogramming the myths of Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Paganism..

    August 19, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
  14. Mohamiss Shafik-Kaddir

    Islam is peace , submit to Islam and know peace .

    August 19, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
    • Reality

      What instigated the attack on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon?

      And what drives today's 24/7 mosque/imam-planned acts of terror and horror?

      The koran, Mohammed's book of death for all infidels and Muslim domination of the world by any means.

      Muslims must clean up this book removing said passages admitting that they are based on the Gabriel myth and therefore obviously the hallucinations and/or lies of Mohammed.

      Then we can talk about the safety and location of mosques and what is taught therein.

      Until then, no male Muslim can be trusted anytime or anywhere..................................


      August 19, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • ug

      Prove it boy.

      August 19, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • Joe6pack

      Islam=peace? LOL! Best joke ever. I won't even bother to prove the opposite.

      August 20, 2012 at 12:53 am |
  15. tucsand

    It wouldn't surprise me one bit if the whole planet didn't end up in one big religious war everyone killing everyone over religion.

    August 19, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • ddpp

      what do you thinks behind the screen these wars are? Religious domination in the world.....it's always going to be my God can beat your God.

      August 19, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
  16. Everett Wallace

    the building looks fine to me but the people are religious and you all no I hate religion. if you want to know how a christian suppose to live read the Holy Bible (new international version) the book of collossians and it give you the facts of life. ! Read the passages with your mouth closed not reading outloud and do this alone and it will help clear your thinking.

    August 19, 2012 at 11:45 am |
  17. Portland tony

    There are a lot worse things happening to Muslims around the world than having lemons and pigs feet thrown at them. Look at Syria, Iraq, etc.... Those are bombs being thrown and they hurt ...and it's not so-called Hate groups perpetuating this violence. These are Muslims killing Muslims. Even here in the US there are numerous acts of random violence against ordinary citizens that happen daily because there a few crazies out there. This article s*cks. We live in a sometimes violent world and that's the way it is!

    August 19, 2012 at 11:36 am |
  18. Amit-Atlanta-USA

    This statement is UTTERLY FALSE

    "They don't like a different color than their color or different religions."

    I am from a MINORITY community (Hindu(, a Brown man, and a recent immigrant and DO NOT FEEL DISCRIMINATED against in this GREATEST NATION ON EARTH.........AMERICA!

    Why should ISLAMISTS led by CAIR, CNN's FAREED ZAKARIA (from my won former homeland India BTW), why should they feel discrimnated. THIS IS THE SAME STORY WHEREVER MUSLIMS ARE IN A MINORITY. When they are in a MAJORITY THEY START TARGETTING EACH OTHER...................e.g. Pakistan, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Bahrain, "SO-CALLED" PALESTINE, everywhere!

    Also Attacks during RAMADAN was the highest in PAKISTAN!

    August 19, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • Everett Wallace

      the united states alone does not make up this NATION and it is not about the color it is about the religion and your family tree traditions will always be a draw, the 6 billion that I know has no religious preference, they just THOUGHT it was the right thing to do going to religious services, now it is ALL about the Holy One of ISREAL and Isreal in the Spiritual Mans Mind is the EARTH.

      August 19, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • ddpp

      muslims killing muslims or blacks killing blacks are not racism, but other way around YES; I have many black and Latino friends and they call each other with N word, for them, it's a style, not hate. But when someone is targeting religious places be it mosque, be it Synagog, Church, Hindu temple or Shikh Gurudwara is RACISM. Muslims killing muslims in "Pakistan, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Bahrain, "SO-CALLED" PALESTINE" are just bunch of criminals, nothing more, but again Sunni killing Shia IS RACISM, although they both are muslims.

      August 19, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • RufusVonDufus

      Too bad there are so few of you to tell the muzzies how to live. They are nothing but a bunch of sniveling cowards who hide behind the burkas of their women and the lives of their children. Using retarded kids as human bombs must make them feel superior. Muslims are from below the bottom of the barrel. We must get rid of all of them.

      August 19, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
  19. Jack

    Hello folks. Everyone is cordially invited to visit... thestarofkaduri.com

    August 19, 2012 at 10:55 am |
  20. Ahmad

    The attacks sure do spike during Ramadan. In every nation Muslim's break out against those of other religions... Wait, what? Attacks against Muslims? What is this crap?

    August 19, 2012 at 10:50 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.