This Week In Hate: Christchurch and Alternative Safety Models

March, 2019 was marked with mass violence, as communities across the globe experienced tragedies, namely the massacres of Fulani Muslims in Mali and mosque goers at Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Centre in Christchurch, New Zealand. Five mosques were vandalized in Birmingham, England, home to one of the biggest Muslim communities.

Only a few days after the attacks in New Zealand, the Dar-ul-Arqam mosque in Escondido, California was the target of arson. The perpetrator left anti-Muslim graffiti referring to the New Zealand attack and set fire to the mosque while several worshippers were inside.

This month SAALT documented five incidents of hate violence and three incidents of xenophobic political rhetoric aimed at South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern, and Arab American communities. Of the five incidents of hate violence, three were physical assaults, one verbal assault, and one incident of property damage.

  • On March 16, 2019, a man physically assaulted Umber Nisar while she was walking down a street in Brooklyn, New York. The man tried to trip her and then kicked her legs, shin, and calf.
  • On March 13, 2019, Tanya Parker, an employee of the Jersey City Board of Education, told a Muslim woman wearing a hijab to “go back to your f***ing country” and called her “retarded.” The dispute was over a parking space.
  • On March 8, 2019, a hijabi Muslim Lyft driver was assaulted by Steven McCuiston in Bloomingdale, Illinois. McCuiston told her “just because you’re a Muslim, I’m gonna kill you and snap your neck” and tried to punch her, ultimately hitting her in the shoulder.
  • On March 6, 2019, Sgt. Cesilia Valdovinos had her hijab ripped off by her command sergeant major in front of others in Fort Carson, Colorado.

Since November 2016, SAALT has documented a total of 468 incidents of hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric. This breaks down further to 139 incidents of xenophobic political rhetoric and 328 incidents of hate violence, of which there were 102 physical assaults, 98 incidents of property damage, and 127 verbal/written assaults. (See Figure 1)

Anti-Blackness and Islamophobia
Xenophobic political rhetoric aimed at Black Muslim politicians continues to trend in the month of March.

After Congresswoman Omar’s comments about AIPAC’s influence in American politics, several anti-black and Islamophobic tirades were aimed at her. On March 1, 2019, Act for America, an anti-Muslim hate group, displayed anti-Muslim material at the West Virginia state Capitol. The group set up a poster juxtaposing a photo of Rep. Ilhan Omar with an image of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. The group also handed out literature, including a booklet titled “Readin’, Writin’, and Jihadin’: The Islamization of American Public Schools.”

On March 27, 2019, Susan Cohen, a real estate agent with The Good Life Team Arizona, sent a xenophobic message to Pennsylvanian state representative Movita Johnson-Harrell. The message read: “Please assimilate here and remove your hijab when you are in the people’s house. Your hijab is very offensive to all Americans. We are a JUDEO-CHRISTIAN nation, and have no time for your blubbering complaints. You are in the United States of America. Start acting like it, or return to you (sic) country where Shari’s (sic) is acceptable. Shari’s (sic) Law will NEVER be a part of our great nation.”

Black Muslim women are targets of anti-black and gendered Islamophobia and we must unite in action to take on this hate.

Alternative Community Defense Models in the Face of Hate
In response to the rise in hate violence against Muslim women and mosques this past month, we encourage community members to discuss and implement community safety models that are alternatives to law enforcement agencies who have long profiled and harassed our communities.

You can read more about this in a community resource guide authored by Justice for Muslims Collective, Defending Rights & Dissent, and Muslim Justice League which highlights models of safety supported by community building. This guide shares models from Black Muslims who have been building communities of resistance for centuries.

Some resources listed in the guide:
The Chain Reaction​ — Alternatives to Policing
US Mosques Security in the Wake of New Zealand
DRUM — Building Community Safety!
Community Safety Guiding Questions After Tree of Life
Community Safety Tips & Plans
Why CVE Programs Won’t Stop White Supremacists
SARS Infographic — AAAN

Whether hate violence and xenophobic attacks occur because of state-sanctioned or interpersonal incidents, our communities continue to show their strength and perseverance by building on values of equality and justice for all.

Written by

A national social justice org working on policy analysis/advocacy on issues affecting the South Asian community: immigration, post 9/11 backlash.

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