On September 27th, we were devastated to learn of the fatal shooting of Sandeep Dhaliwal, the Harris County, TX sheriff’s deputy, who was tragically shot “ambush style” while on a traffic stop in an area where Houston meets Harris County. Dhaliwal had drawn national headlines for pushing the county to respect his religious freedom to grow a beard and wear his turban while on the job. While authorities have said they don’t believe the crime was motivated by hate, we are keeping a close eye on how the case unfolds given the history of hate violence targeting Sikhs in the U.S.
In September, SAALT tracked 3 incidents of hate violence, 1 instance of racial profiling, and 7 instances of xenophobic and/or Islamophobic political rhetoric targeting Muslims and those racialized as Muslim. Of the incidents of violence, 1 entailed written/verbal remarks or threats, and 2 included property damage.
- On September 3, 2019, surveillance video revealed a man walking up and throwing two stones at a mosque in West Oak, PA. One of the rocks shattered part of the front door.
- On September 10, 2019, a Muslim family reported recieving a dollar bill with the message “No Muslim Immigrants in USA!”
- On September 17, 2019, surveillance footage showed a man vandalizing the Two Rivers Mosque in Grand Junction, CO. The suspect also broke planters and pulled out flowers across the trespassed territory.
- On September 14, 2019, American Airlines kicked two Muslim community leaders off their plane, who were returning home to Dallas, TX from Alabama. The flight crew reportedly didn’t feel comfortable when one of the Muslim men went to the restroom and flushed the toilet twice.
Such instances of hate and racial profiling occur concurrently with the rise of racist, vitrolic speech from elected officials and the media.
Throughout September, we continued to see the reinforcement of Islamophobic and xenophobic rhetoric coming out of the highest elected offices. After firing John Bolton on September 10th, President Donald Trump selected Charles Kupperman for the position. For nearly a decade, Kupperman has served on the board of directors for the Center for Security Policy, an organization the Southern Poverty Law Center has called an anti-Muslim hate group. The Center has advanced the conspiracy theory that members of the Obama Administration were working to implement Islamic law in the United States.
And on September 18, President Donald Trump retweeted a video falsely indicating that Rep. Omar “partied on the anniversary of 9/11.” The President commented on the post, “IIhan Omar, a member of AOC Plus 3, will win us the Great State of Minnesota. The new face of the Democrat Party!” Such anti-Muslim speech has trickled down to state and local officials all across the country.
- The week of the September 11th anniversary, Colorado Sen. Vicki Marble (R-Ft. Collins) “liked” a Facebook post with an image of the burning twin towers and the following statement: “Every time a Moslem (sic) stands up in Congress and tells us they will change the Constitution, impeach our President, or vote for Socialism, remember you said you would never forget. They said they would destroy us from within.” On the anniversary of 9/11, the Douglas County Colorado Republican Party shared the exact same Islamophobic post.
- On September 13, 2019, an officer with the Sikeston Department of Public Safety in Missouri resigned after making Islamophobic posts from his Facebook account.
- On September 14, 2019, Raritan, NJ Deputy Louis Reiner resigned after posting a mushroom cloud and the declaration “SOME CANCERS MUST BE TREATED WITH RADIATION. ISLAM IS ONE OF THEM.”
Finally, speakers with a history of making Islamophobic remarks continue to be given a platform. Anti-Muslim extremist Chris Gaubautz was invited to speak at an event hosted by the Towns County Republican Party in Georgia. The Towns County Republican Party banned a reporter from the north Georgia news outlet Fetch Your News from attending the event. The Arizona State University’s College Republicans United’s plan to bring local Islamophobic conspiracy theorist Carl Goldberg to campus in early October drew a significant amount of controversy throughout the month.
SAALT has logged 524 reported incidents of hate violence and 281 instances of xenophobic political rhetoric since November 2016. Alongside continued attacks towards our community members, the resistance against racial profiling and racist policies is growing. On September 24, 2019, Congress held its first ever Muslim Ban hearing. Membersdiscussed the National Origin-Based Antidiscrimination for Non-immigrants Act―also known as the No BAN Act―a bill introduced by Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) and Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) seeking to end the Muslim ban and to restrict future presidents from enacting similar bans.