In Southern California, police and the FBI have launched a hate crimes probe after two mosques were vandalized. Worshipers at the Islamic Center of Hawthorne arrived Sunday to find the words “Jesus is the way” spray-painted on the mosque. At another mosque in the same town, the word “Jesus” was spray-painted on the outside, and a plastic hand grenade replica was left in the driveway. The incidents came after police arrested 23-year-old Carl Dial Jr. Friday on hate crime and arson charges over a fire at a third Southern California mosque, the Islamic Society of Coachella Valley. Alisa Shabazz, a member of the mosque, reacted to the arson.
Alisa Shabazz: “When we came around the corner, we saw the ambulance—no, excuse me, no, the fire department. And we was like, ’What’s happening?’ And they said that somebody tried to blow up the mosque. Why? For what reason? You know, we’re peaceful people. We don’t terrorize people. We don’t bomb people. I’ve been a Muslim all my life, and I’ve never had to deal with this.”
The mosque fires are part of an apparent spike in Islamophobic incidents in the aftermath of the Paris and San Bernardino attacks and amid calls by Republican candidate Donald Trump to ban Muslims from entering the United States. More than a dozen incidents have been reported over the past week alone. In Tampa, Florida, two Muslim women reported being attacked in separate incidents: One said she was shot at, while another said she was nearly run off the road by a man who threw stones at her. In Gwinnett County, Georgia, a 13-year-old Muslim girl was asked by a teacher if she had a bomb in her backpack. Multiple mosques from New Jersey to Arizona have been vandalized or received hate mail.