Vandals spray painted Islamophobic graffiti on a Muslim school in the Northeastern U.S. state of Rhode Island one day after the staff and students held a vigil for the three Muslims students murdered in North Carolina last week, local press reported Sunday.
“Now this is a hate crime” and “pigs” was spray painted several times on the school, the Providence Journal reported. The president of the school, Hilmy Bakri, told the newspaper that his institution had never received threats in the past. According to the school’s website, it is an “independent Islamic institution for students of all cultures and backgrounds” and when it opened in 2003 it became the first school of its kind in the state.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) demanded federal authorities investigate what they believe to be a “hate crime.”
“This apparently bias-motivated incident should be investigated as a hate crime, with the strongest possible charges brought against the perpetrators once they are apprehended,” said Ibrahim Hooper, the director of communications at the CAIR, in a statement.
“The recent spike in anti-Muslim hate rhetoric and bias-motivated attacks on American Muslims and their institutions must be addressed by our nation’s leaders,” he said.
The crime was “beyond normal vandalism,” and included "senseless, hateful comments,” commented local police captain Donald Archibald to NBC News.
According to a 2008 Pew Research Center study, the Muslim population of Rhode Island accounts for less than 1 percent of the population.
Islamophobic actions have been increasing over past weeks in the U.S., including the North Carolina fatal shootings of three young Muslims last week and Friday’s arson of one of three buildings of the Islamic Center in Houston which is also being investigated as a possible hate crime.
On Wednesday, a report by the Center for American Progress titled, “Fear, Inc. 2.0. The Islamophobia Network’s Efforts to Manufacture Hate in America” exposes the people who fund and incite anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States. According to the study, a group of foundations donate money to other organizations that resort to so called experts to promote false ideas about Islam, such as it is supposedly encouraging violence. The ideas are then echoed and amplified on social networks.
The mainstream media and politicians have also played a role, for example, by underreporting hate crimes against Muslims while giving ample coverage to and condemning hate crimes against Jewish people.
Islamophobia is particularly on the rise in Europe, in the aftermath of Charlie Hebdo mass shooting, especially in France, Germany and the U.K.
Islamic School of Rhode Island was vandalized last night. This is the epitome of ignorance. I'm disgusted. pic.twitter.com/Alvyc8S3l7— Bismah (@Bismah_Sidd) February 15, 2015