In the aftermath of the New Zealand terror attack targeting Muslims that left 50 dead, President Donald Trump suggested that white nationalism is not a rising threat — but the facts keep telling a dramatically different story. A California mosque was hit with an arson attack this past weekend that had accompanying graffiti that clearly referenced the New Zealand attack, although police have declined to release the exact language.
No one was injured in the incident, and the flames were extinguished at an early enough point to save the building, but the point is clear — there remain harsh white supremacist elements embedded in Western culture who would like to see members of minority communities dead. There were seven people inside the mosque at the time of the blaze, and accelerant was found on the scene.
Local police say they’re investigating the incident as a hate crime, and are being assisted by the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, but they’d not identified any suspects as of late Sunday.
Local community leader Yusef Miller told The Washington Post:
‘I never could have expected that this would happen here, two blocks from my house. The connection was chilling. It was a clear homage to what happened in New Zealand.’
It’s not the first, although Miller didn’t know of any other copycat attacks in the U.S.
Over in the United Kingdom, in the week following the New Zealand attack, a watchdog group called Tell Mama recorded 95 incidents of anti-Muslim animosity, most of which explicitly referenced the globally resonating incident. Some of those incidents were particularly egregious, like that of the 50-year-old man who shouted racist comments while stabbing a teenager.
Although that victim survived, another wasn’t so lucky. More recently, a 17-year-old boy of apparent Muslim immigrant background was stabbed to death in an attack carried out by a group of people who were not immediately easily identified, although it remains unclear what motive may have driven that attack.
Still, Muslims the world over have been left on edge — and not just because of the incidents since the New Zealand attack. According to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), hate crimes targeting Muslims spiked by a full 15 percent in 2017, which tracks with an overall increase of hate crimes that same year by about 17 percent. The 2017 numbers were the worst CAIR had ever recorded since their record keeping began in 2009.
The spikes didn’t emerge in a vacuum, instead proceeding under the clear shadow of the ascent of President Donald Trump’s rise. He founded his campaign on hostility towards members of minority communities including Muslim immigrants insisting at various times in and out of office that Islam “hates us” and allowing mostly Muslim immigrants to come to Europe is “very, very sad.”
In the aftermath of the New Zealand incident, the country’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that all she asked the president for when he offered support was love for the global Muslim community, but it’s hardly as though he’s delivered, continuing on down the same path of anti-immigrant rhetoric the shooter himself used.
Featured Image via YouTube screenshot