The Worst Recent Islamophobic Incidents In The United States — & How You Can Help

Photographed by Mark Iantosca.
The past few weeks have seen an unfortunate surge in Islamophobic bigotry. At least 31 state governors have said that Syrian refugees aren't welcome in their states, and many of the governors cited security concerns as their reason. Presidential hopeful Donald Trump, meanwhile, suggested that the United States ban all Muslims from entering the country.

Trump doubled down on his comments during Tuesday night's Republican presidential debate, and many of his fellow GOP candidates also described national-security threats along with their solution to bomb parts of the world filled with Muslim civilians. This rhetoric isn't new, and it's already led to a disturbing number of anti-Muslim bias crimes around the country.

In one particularly egregious incidence of Islamophobia, a Muslim sixth grader was tormented at her middle school in New York City. Several of the girl's classmates allegedly called her "ISIS" and tried to remove her hijab, all while physically attacking her. The incident happened at Public School 89 in the Bronx on November 19.

The attack on the Muslim student came less than a week after the Paris terror attacks, which left 130 people dead, and for which ISIS claimed responsibility. But it also comes amid an increase in anti-Muslim attacks in the U.S. According to a press release from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the past few weeks have seen "a pattern of increased hate-motivated crimes and bias incidents nationwide" against Muslim Americans following the Paris attacks. If you're disheartened by the attacks on Muslim Americans, you can donate to CAIR here.

Meanwhile, in Southern California, two mosques were vandalized, prompting an FBI investigation. Police in Hawthorne, CA, responded to the vandalism report on December 13, and the acts of defacement are being investigated as potential hate crimes. One of the graffiti messages at the mosques said, "Jesus," ABC News reports, and officers found what resembled a homemade grenade outside one of the mosques. (After an investigation from the bomb squad, authorities determined the grenade was a plastic replica.)

The vandalism at the mosques came after St. Joseph Catholic Church in Hawthorne, along with the Islamic Center of Hawthorne, held a "walk and rally" on December 12 to promote cooperation among religious faiths. To support the Islamic Center of Hawthorne, you can make a donation here.

Violence against Muslim Americans has become so prominent that U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch recently stated that the United States has seen a "very disturbing" increase in Islamophobic sentiments. Lynch's remarks came after 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed, a Muslim, was arrested for bringing a homemade clock to school — which happened months before the recent terrorist attacks.

A 2014 survey of students in California found that 55% of the state's Muslim students reported being verbally abused and insulted. CAIR's California chapter conducted the study, in which students reported being called terrorists and "towelheads." And, as Mother Jones notes, many of the anti-Muslim incidents in schools begin with teachers. That was the case in Georgia on Monday, when a teacher apparently asked a Muslim student if she had a bomb in her backpack. The teacher later claimed to have been "joking," but given the string of Islamophobic attacks in U.S. schools, the incident wasn't a laughing matter, especially for the student involved.

Aside from donating money, one of the best things you can do to help stop discrimination against Muslim Americans is to get involved with community outreach. To stop discrimination against Muslim students, for instance, it's important for people of all faiths, and of no faith, to educate children about respecting people of various religions, and teaching them to respect people who may be different from them. Education is key to stopping hate crimes against Muslims, and with so many ugly ideas gaining traction, it's more important than ever.
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