On Dec. 16, 2013, Dr. Riaz Riaz drove from his home to his local mosque in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains to perform his afternoon prayers. When he arrived at the Islamic Society of the Appalachian Region (ISAR) Center, he was shocked to find anti-Islam insults sprayed on the walls in bright red paint.
(Most of the photos here have been censored or blurred so you won’t get to see what people really think about Muslims)
Al-Jazeera For Riaz and other members of this congregation, the incident brought back memories of a similar desecration that took place just after September 11, 2001. After the first incident, members of the Muslim community as well as the authorities felt the vandalism of the mosque clearly fit the definition of a hate crime. This time, however, Mercer County Sheriff Don Meadows told a local TV station the incident was not a hate crime because another act of vandalism had taken place nearby around the same date. Multiple attempts to contact Meadows for comment on this story were unsuccessful. (Smart Sheriff)
Ibrahim ‘Uncle Dougie’ Hooper, the national communications director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), disagrees with the sheriff’s assessment. “This incident is absolutely a hate crime,” he said. “You have people writing explicitly anti-Islam statements on a mosque. It’s the definition of a hate crime.” The federal government defines a hate crime as “a criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, ethnic origin or sexual orientation.” The FBI is investigating the vandalism of the mosque as a hate crime. No suspects have been identified to date. (Because the Feds have nothing better to do than run around Virginia looking for anti-Muslim graffiti artists)
The fact that the mosque was targeted again more than 12 years after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, combined with the tepid response of local authorities, has exacerbated the feeling that Islamophobia in the area is rising. (Let’s see, it’s been 12 years between graffiti attacks and you consider that a pattern? Idiots)
“This (crime) really hurts all of us because all of us feel that we are part of the American dream,” Dr. Abdul Piracha, another senior member of the community, said in a statement to the Bluefield Daily Telegraph immediately after the incident. “We have to stand up to this kind of thing. The last time this happened, after 9/11, the entire community came out to show their support.”
The September 2001 incident left the mosque covered with swastikas, threats of retribution for the attacks and a depiction of an African-American man named Jamaal being lynched. At the time, local church and business leaders condemned the desecration and were involved in cleaning up the graffiti. (Well by now, they are wise to your well-known your antics of playing the perpetual victim card and couldn’t care less)
This time, however, a member of the mosque’s executive committee (who wished to remain anonymous) lamented the relative lack of tangible help that the community has received to clean up the graffiti. Although attempts have been made to wash the graffiti off, it is still visible on the building’s walls. “In 2001, there was a huge outpouring of support from the community, and everyone came together to help us restore our mosque. We haven’t seen that this time around,” he said. (Awwwww)
The board member attributes the different responses to the two incidents to what he believes is a worsening perception of Muslims in the area. “Things are definitely worse now than they were then,” he says. He believes the widespread myth of President Barack Obama’s being a Muslim is a significant contributor to this trend. Obama is very unpopular in the area.