Islamic hate crime in Philadelphia: Are America's Muslims endangered?

A hate crime against a Philadelphia mosque comes as Donald Trump proposes to prohibit Muslims from entering the US and last week's San Bernardino mass shooting.

Early morning prayers at the Al-Aqsa Islamic Society in Philadelphia were interrupted Monday morning when a mosque worker found a severed pig’s head at the mosque's front entrance. 

Local and federal authorities are investigating the act as a hate crime. A surveillance camera captured video of a red pickup truck that drove by the building twice the night before. Authorities say the video shows the truck coming by the second time and the pig's head being tossed out. Police have yet to identify a suspect or suspects.

According to the Quran, Islamic law forbids the consumption of pork, which is considered non-halal.

“It’s just a pig’s head – that’s not a big deal; but it does send a message,” Marwan Kreidie, mosque spokesman and Arab American Development Corp. director told The Washington Post. “I think people are worried that if they do a pig’s head, they could do something more violent in the future.”

Following the Paris attacks, anti-Muslim backlash manifested in a series of hate crimes around the United States and Canada. One seven-year-old boy in Texas became famous for donating the contents of his piggy bank to an Islamic Center where torn Qurans covered in feces were found outside. 

The San Bernardino shooting last week, which left 14 dead, seems to have sparked a new national rhetoric against Muslims. Radical Islam provided a motive behind the deadly attack, but the FBI has said the couple self-radicalized. 

The incident prompted GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump to give a speech on Monday in which he proposed all Muslims be banned from entering the US.

We are now at war,” Trump said in his speech. “We have a president who doesn’t want to say that.” 

While the Republican Party denounced Trump’s statement, candidates like former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz have said earlier that only Christian refugees should be allowed in from Syria.

“The fact that only Trump drew widespread outrage shows how accustomed we have become to out-in-the-open anti-Muslim prejudice in this country, and the extremes that now tolerate,” writes Max Fischer for Vox.

According to a series of polls conducted by Gallup, many Muslims have reported that they don’t feel respected by those in the West. A poll conducted in 2011 found that 52 percent of Americans and 48 percent of Canadians believe the West does not respect Muslim societies – a substantially larger population than those in Italy, France, Germany, and Britain.

Since 9/11, Islamophobia has been on the rise in America. And according to some in the media, it’s still rising.  

But the first poll on views of Muslim Americans taken after the mass shootings in Paris and San Bernardino, indicates this is a minority view. The Reuters/Ipsos poll showed 51 percent of Americans consider Muslims living in the US the same way they consider other groups of people.

Only 14.6 percent of those surveyed said they were generally fearful. The Reuters/Ipsos poll, which was conducted online this past Thursday and Friday indicates that much of the division on Muslim view is partisan. Among Democrats, 60 percent said they view Muslims like any other community, compared with 30 percent of Republicans, Reuters reports.

President Obama has repeatedly called for no backlash against America’s Muslims, and sought to quell heightened fears following the San Bernardino shooting in a speech from the Oval Office Sunday evening.

“It is clear that the two of them had gone down the dark path of radicalization,” Mr. Obama said of the killers, Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik. “This was an act of terrorism designed to kill innocent people.”

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