The rise of anti-Muslim violence, domestic extremism and double standards


Posted May 14, 2010      •Permalink      • Printer-Friendly Version
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by MPAC staff

On Monday night, someone discreetly walked around the grounds of a house of worship carrying a gas can which he quickly lit and ran away. Minutes later, around 9:30 pm, as more than 60 people worshipped inside, the pipe bomb exploded in a ball of flames and set part of the building on fire.

Thankfully, nobody was injured and the fire was put out by frightened worshippers using a fire extinguisher. Currently, the FBI is investigating the incident as a possible act of domestic terrorism.

The attack happened to take place at a mosque in Jacksonville, FL – and has received little to no attention from national media outlets. Had the fire bombing taken place against a church or synagogue, it’s no stretch of the imagination to think it would have made national headlines within hours.

“It was a dangerous device, and had anybody been around it they could have been seriously injured or killed,” FBI Special Agent James Casey told a local news station. “We want to sort of emphasize the seriousness of the thing and not let people believe that this was just a match and a little bit of gasoline that was spread around.”

However it needs to be recognized that this attack comes in a much wider context of anti-Muslim prejudice. After the Times Square incident individuals have sought to score cheap political points by manipulating Americans’ heightened concerns over national security. At the national level, Senator Joseph Lieberman sponsored a McCarthyite bill seeking to strip naturalized Americans of their citizenship if they are accused of terrorism. A week before the bomb attack on the Florida mosque, Florida Republican congressional candidate Dan Fanelli ran ads openly endorsing racial and religious profiling using blatantly racist and offensive messages in his campaign commercials.

Instead of being treated as partners and equal citizens within our country, Muslim Americans are increasingly being met with outright contempt, suspicion and bigotry from many angry and dangerous elements in our society.

Muslim Americans are stuck scratching their foreheads over the blatant double standard we face on issues of national security. Some statistics help to put this in perspective:

This week’s bomb attack on the Florida mosque makes it the 62 nd incident attempted by non-Muslim violent extremists. Furthermore, there have been at least 5 cases of actual or attempted possession of radiological, biological or chemical weapons by non-Muslim violent extremists. In contrast, there have been 34 plots (including domestic and international) attempted by Muslim violent extremists, according to MPAC’s Post-9/11 Terrorism Database.

One of the most alarming cases was in March 2010, when two Neo-Nazi sympathizers were found in possession of bio-chemical weapons and had plans to attack bridges, tunnels, Federal buildings and members of Congress. Then, there’s Joseph Stack, who flew his plane into a Texas IRS building on a suicide mission inspired by anti-government sentiment. And of course, there’s also the Hutaree militia members who were arrested for plotting to kill a police officer, then attend his funeral so that they could kill more police officers. Has any politician called for draconian legislation and discriminatory policies against white males, based on these incidents?

No doubt, we are facing a startling rise in domestic extremism. But the incidents which allegedly involve a Muslim perpetrator get exponentially more attention from media outlets and public officials than those which involve any other violent extremists. That’s a double standard, plain and simple. Terrorism is terrorism, no matter what the identity of the perpetrator is, so let’s be honest with ourselves and treat it that way. We owe at least that much to ourselves and our country, if for no other reason than to keep ourselves both safe and free.