There has been great community concern that acts of highly publicised terrorist attacks is leading towards Islamophobia and random acts of violence against people perceived to be Muslims living in Western countries.
The vilification of Islam and demonisation of Muslims by Donald Trump in the US, Pauline Hanson in Australia and the likes of Geert Wilders and others in Europe is creating an atmosphere of hate and xenophobia in the society.
On Sat 13 August Imam of a New York mosque, Alauddin Akonji, 55 and his colleague Thara Miah, 64 were shot dead in broad daylight while walking to their home from the mosque after mid-day prayers.
The Muslim community leaders are contesting that the killing be investigated as a hate crime since they were identifiabling dressed in their traditional Muslim garb.
Authorities later arrested and have charged 35-year-old Oscar Morel of New York with second-degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon. Police are still investigating the motivation for the killings and have not ruled out the possibility of a hate crime.
A day earlier on Friday 12 August Khalid Jabara, a 37-year-old man of Lebanese Christian descent, was shot to death on his front porch in Tulsa, Oklahoma by his neighbour Stanley Vernon Majors, 61 who has been terrorising his family using racist slurs as “dirty Arabs”, “filthy Lebanese” and “Mooslems”.
Reportedly, the Police, who were called in several times previously, did not take harassment of the family by Majors seriously and told that they could not take any action against him at the time.
Meanwhile in Australia, on Sunday 14 August 10 members of the Party for Freedom who claim to be supporting Pauline Hanson stormed the Gosford Anglican Church dressed as Muslims chanting anti-Muslim slogans and mocking Muslims.
Father Rod Bower, priest at the Church said that members of the Party for Freedom burst into the church about 9.30 am, halfway through his sermon. The Central Coast Church is known to embrace Multiculturalism and is critical of Australia’s hardline border protection policies.
“Using a loud speaker, starting to abuse me in particular for the work we do, they violated our sacred space,” Father Bower said.
“It was typical rhetoric from the extreme right, vilifying Muslims and multiculturalism as a whole”, he said.
Last year Craig Stephen Hicks, an anti-religion bigot who obsessively harassed his Muslim neighbors, Deah Barakat and Yusor Abu-Salha, about parking spaces, killed them and Yusor’s sister Razan Abu-Salha, in their home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Hicks is awaiting trial on first-degree murder charges.
Abed Ayoub, the legal and policy director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, emphasized that being Lebanese Christians did not shield the Jabara family from the Islamophobia that factored into the hatred espoused by Majors.
“It’s not just Muslims or even Arabs” who are being targeted by anti-Muslim bigotry, Ayoub said. “It’s anyone who is perceived as Arab or Muslim. We have Hispanics who call our office reporting harassment for being perceived as Arab or Muslim.”
Middle of last year, the FBI warned in an internal report that right-wing extremists, inspired by anti-Muslim conspiracy theories and disinformation funded to the tune of tens of millions of dollars by wealthy pro-Israel zealots, were beginning to plot attacks against Muslims.
Far-right nationalist groups have been emboldened by One Nation winning a number of seats in the Australian Senate and Pauline Hanson’s rhetoric against Islam and Muslims.