More mosque incidents were recorded in 2015 than in any year since we started keeping this tally. 2015 accounted for the most ever cases in both the Damage, Destruction, Vandalism category and the Intimidation category, adding weight to assertions that the most recent cycle of Islamophobia is characterized by its violent tone.
November 2015 was the most significant spike, with a total of 17 mosque incidents, with all but 2 of those incidents occurring in the wake of the November 13 Paris terror attacks. No comparable spike was observed following the January 7 Paris terror attacks, with 5 incidents occurring the entire month of January. By November 2015, Islam was a central issue in the 2016 presidential campaign, with GOP frontrunner candidate Donald Trump putting for policy ideas that would ban all Muslims from entering the United States.
The incident tallies reached a height not seen since 2010, when the controversy over the Park 51 Islamic Cultural Center became an election campaign issue. That cycle of Islamophobia was characterized by efforts to prevent the expansion or construction of mosques.
This lends additional weight to the argument that â€œlevels of anti-Muslim sentiment follow trends in domestic U.S. politics, not international terrorism.â€
It is highly likely that the numbers below significantly underreport the actual number of incidents. Our incidents are collected from news searches and incidents reported to CAIR. Conversations with local community leaders often reveal that they do not report mosque incidents to media, CAIR or law enforcement.Â
Damage-Destruction-Vandalism (DDV): Incidents involving property damage.
Harassment: Demonstrations or acts that involve Islamophobic slurs.
Intimidation: Threats of violence or other acts apparently intended to cause fear in those targeted by the act. This category includes armed anti-Islam demonstrations and placing severed pigâ€™s heads on mosque property.
Zoning: Islamophobic issues raised during zoning proceedings. We include an incident in the zoning category only if bias is clearly identified in zoning proceedings. Places of worship of many faiths routinely face opposition from neighbors due to traffic or land use concerns. Incidents where no bias is independently identified are not including in our counts.
Edmond, Okla., May 2013 – Rev. Paul Blair, founder of Reclaiming America for Christ, requested that the Edmond planning commission delay a vote on a permit for the Islamic Society of Edmond. Blair alleged ties between the mosque and the Muslim Brotherhood. The council voted to approve the permit.
Morris County, N.J., June 2013 – A swastika was spray-painted on a side entrance to the Islamic Center of Morris County. Worshipers have reportedly been verbally harassed by young people who gather near the mosque.
Owatonna, Minn., June 2013 – Officials with the Muslim Society Center reported that a window of the facility was broken. Mosque leaders said it did not appear that an object was thrown at the window, but rather that someone broke it using a bat or another object. It is the second time in two weeks and the third time in a year that a window has been broken at the mosque. Mosque leaders say the mosque has faced opposition since it opened and that some in the community have been hostile to the groupâ€™s presence.
Manchester, N.H., July 2013 – Vandals targeted the construction site for the Islamic Society of Greater Manchester. The vandalism, which cost more than $30,000 to repair, included a number of smashed windows and attempted arson. The perpetrators were caught on video surveillance cameras. The juvenile perpetrators bragged of the vandalism online and left comments on anti-Muslim hate sites.Â
Huntington, N.Y., July 2013 – Someone threw a metallic object through a window of the Masjid Noor Mosque.
Clermont City, Fla., August 2013 – Ray Goodgame, a member of the city council, sent an e-mail to supporters in which he described a proposed mosque as â€œbad newsâ€ and lamented potential â€œwailing musicâ€ that would disturb neighbors.
Vestal, N.Y., August 2013 – A pigâ€™s head was left near an unnamed mosque that was being built by the Ahmadiyya community. It was later revealed that DeSteph was relying on a 25-slide PowerPoint presentation produced by ACT! for America as his source material. Resident Atwood Brooks wrote, â€œIt is well known that mosques are the recruiting and training ground for radical Islamists and terrorists.â€ Audience members threatened to work to remove from office any council members who voted in favor of the mosque construction plan.Â The council voted 9-1 in favor of the plan. He also asked a member of the worship center what the building was. After receiving an answer, he â€œasked whether or not the member had killed anyone that day.â€
Murrieta, Calif., September 2013 – A note was left taped to the front door of the Islamic Center of Temecula Valley. The note read, â€œPray for the victims of Al-Shabaab. We are watching! Pray for the Christians in Pakistan. He is listening.â€
Newark, Del., October 2013 – Sometime in the early morning, vandals targeted the Islamic Society of Delaware by tearing down fences, destroying a wooden sign for the facility and damaging an electronic sign. A cross was fashioned from the debris and placed at the site of the vandalism. The mosque was eventually opened.
Katy, Texas, March 2014 – Robert James Talbot, Jr. was arrested on terrorism charges by the FBI. Talbot conspired to rob banks and then bomb mosques. He repeatedly posted on his Facebook page about his â€œrevolutionâ€ and was caught by undercover FBI agents.
Redmond, Wash., May 2014 – A flyer distributed anonymously, due to â€œfear of physical and mental harm and other retaliationâ€ during hearings for a proposed mosque asserted â€œSinceÂ 1960, every single terrorist, which is 100%, operating in the United States of America who has self-identified as a Muslim, or a follower of Islam, has attended a Mosque.â€
Midland Park, N.J., July 2014 – During a land-use hearing considering an application to convert an old church into a mosque, a resident yelled â€œBuild the mosque in your town!â€ at a Muslim man from a neighboring town. Another commented: â€œI donâ€™t care if they worship their God, just not in our town.â€ There was another man holding a sign that read â€œStop Applicationâ€ and â€œKeep R Kids Safe.â€
Round Rock, Texas, September 2014 – A highway sign dedicated to a local Ahmadiyya Muslim Community was vandalized. The perpetrator spray-painted, in black, over the words â€œAhmadiyya Muslimâ€ and left a handwritten note that said, â€œA Christian Community, USA.â€ In an email sent to this mosque, someone wrote, â€œWake up, get out of our state, get out of our country.â€ Another email read, â€œYour day is coming quickly where you will all be purged from my America.â€
Katy, Texas, October 2014 – Robert James Talbot planned to launch his â€œAmerican Insurgent Movementâ€ by murdering police and â€œspraying a mosque with gunfire.â€ Police arrested him the day he was to allegedly going to launch his attack.
Albuquerque, N.M., October 2014 – Police said an incendiary device was thrown at a window of the Islamic Center of New Mexico but did not enter the building. The device ignited and caused damage to the exterior of the mosque.
Coachella, Calif., November 2014 – Shots were fired at the Islamic Society of the Coachella Valley. According to local law enforcement authorities, the mosque was occupied at the time of the attack, but no one was injured.
Kennesaw, Ga., November 2014 – The Kennesaw City Council tabled a vote on a proposal that would allow an Islamic worship center to open in the middle of a shopping center in Kennesaw, Ga. Opponents expressed opposition to the presence of Muslims saying the worship center in Kennesaw â€œwill endanger our freedom.â€
St. Cloud, Minn., December 2014 – Vandals targeted the Central Minnesota Islamic Center. First a window was broken, and later a window was shot several times with what is believed to have been a BB gun. People who attend this mosque have also alleged that their car windows were smashed. This mosque was targeted at least three times.
Lexington, Ky., January 2015 â€“ During a neighborhood meeting, opponents of the planned Islamic Center of Lexington raised concerns about Muslims looking into their homes with telescopes, banning people of other faiths from the area and domestic violence as reasons for the project to be rejected.
Bridgeview, Ill., January 2015 – The Mosque Foundation was targeted by an online threat and had to ask for an increased police presence. An initial Facebook post read, â€œF – – – – – – Muslims burn down Christian churches in France! We got to start breaking some rules putting these n – – – – – in check.â€ This was followed by, â€œI'd like to start with that mosque down the street . . . Eye for an eye tooth for a tooth.â€ Later, another person added: â€œMaybe we should walk down the middle of the street without a worry in the world like they do shootin every one of them!!!!â€
Houston, Texas, February 2015 – Officials with the Quba Islamic Institute say investigators with the Houston Fire Department found that an accelerant was used in the fire that broke out about 5:30 a.m. Darryl Ferguson was later arrested for the crime. During his arraignment prosecutors reported that Ferguson had told a store clerk that he â€œhated Muslims, they got what they deserved, and things happen for a reason.â€
Washington, D.C., February 2015 â€“ Vandals tore covers off prayer books, tore down bookshelves and threw a chair through a window at the Ivy City Mosque.
Houston, Texas, March 2015 â€“ After promoting a religious lecture, the Masjid Hamza Islamic center received a threat via social media. The threat stated: â€œIslam should be outlawed in the US, Iâ€™ll be there to make sure you do not enjoy your â€˜event.â€™ See you soon.â€ Mosque officials immediately reported the message to the Houston Police Department and the FBI.
Edmond, Okla., April 2015 – Pieces of pork were left in the parking lot and tied around a main door handle of Islamic Society of Edmond in Edmond, Okla. The vandalism reportedly occurredÂ between early morning prayers at 6:30 a.m. and noon, when children arrived forÂ their regularly scheduled Sunday school.
Tempe, Ariz., April 2015 â€“ Over a period of several weeks, controversial â€œstreet preacherâ€ Dean Saxton and other demonstrators targeted the Islamic Community Center of Tempe, yelling insults at the mosqueâ€™s attendees and desecrating the Quran, Islamâ€™s revealed text.
Tempe & Phoenix, Ariz., May 2015 – During Memorial Day weekend, letters were received at mosques in Tempe and Phoenix, Ariz. The letters from â€œPatriotic Friendsâ€ read in part: â€œFirst of all, in any state where sharia law is invoked in any way, all Imam's in the that state and their families will die.â€
Phoenix, Ariz., May, 2015 – Jon Ritzheimer organized an armed anti-Islam demonstration outside the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix that drew hundreds of participants and counter-protestors. Some participants â€œopenly used strong abusive language and racist remarks on their placards.â€ One man wore a white supremacist t-shirt with Nazi symbols on it.
Omaha, Neb., August 2015 – Someone was caught on surveillance video smashing a window at the Islamic Center of Omaha. Police say a group of people began throwing stones at the mosque after 3 a.m. When the rocks failed to cause damage, one vandal threw a 40-pound boulder through a side-door window.
Monroeville, Penn., August, 2015 – At a city council meeting, Anti-Islam comments were made regarding a planned mosque.Â One mosque opponent said, â€œIt is a questionable lifestyle. It will be closed off to us, itâ€™s anti-American. Their teachings are well against the format of normal American values.â€ Another mosque opponent said, â€œI think itâ€™s pretty blatant when the Koran tells us, Muslims must muster all weapons to terrorize the infidels,â€ said Kim Wilson. â€œHow does that end up to be self-defense? Iâ€™m just concerned about my safety and your safety.â€
Kendall, Fla., September 2015 – Worshippers arriving for Eid prayers at the Islamic School of Miami, which is also identified as a mosque, found a ceramic skull, bouquets of flowers like those used at funerals, and other objects.
Sterling Heights, Michigan, September, 2015 – A crowd outside a zoning hearing for a mosque became so hostile that an Islamic religious leader had to be escorted away for his own safety. According to a local news report â€œsome felt the atmosphere was unsafe for Muslims in favor of the mosque.â€
GLOBAL RALLY FOR HUMANITY DAY 10/9-10 BELOW THIS LINE *****************************
Similarly, a ten-person event in Oregon was re-branded as a â€œpro-Policeâ€ rally and held outside a police station. A group of over 100 people who had arrived to counter the anti-Islam theme supported the new focus.Â A group of Nazis attempted to join the anti-Islam demonstrators, but were asked to leave by organizer Jon Ritzheimer.
Oklahoma City, October, 2015 â€“ A lone anti-Islam demonstrator held up a sign that read â€œknow Sharia.â€
Plano, Texas, October 2015 â€“ A video of two anti-Islam demonstrators was circulated standing outside the mosque during Friday prayers. On the video, the men can be heard saying, â€œYour god is disgusting. This is a Judeo-Christian nation. We will take our country back from you pathetic people.â€ More than 100 people turned out to support the mosque and its congregation.
GLOBAL RALLY FOR HUMANITY DAY 10/9-10/15 ABOVE THIS LINE *****************************
Burlington, Ma. November 2015 â€“ Two teens spray-painted â€œUSAâ€ repeatedly on the exterior walls of the Islamic Center of Burlington. The graffiti was an apparent reference to a common Islamophobic theme that Muslims are not â€œrealâ€ Americans.
Omaha, Neb., November 2015 – A vandal was caught on surveillance camera attempting to break a glass door at the Islamic Center in Omaha.
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Lubbock, Texas, November, 2015 – An official with the Islamic Center of South Plains in Lubbock reported that worshipers at a mosque associated with the center discovered outside lights broken and the mosqueâ€™s main glass door smashed when they arrived for early morning prayers. Nothing was stolen from the facility.
Irving, Texas, November, 2015 â€“ A group of demonstrators calling themselves the Bureau of American Islamic Relations (BAIR) held an armed anti-Islam demonstration outside the Islamic Center of Irving. One of the demonstrators signs read, â€œStop the Islamization of American.â€ This may be a reference to the campaign of the same name launched by inner core staple Pamela Geller. Responding to a reporterâ€™s question, a spokesperson for BAIR said, â€œWe do want to show force. â€¦It would be ridiculous to protest Islam without defending ourselves.â€
Austin, Texas, November 2015 â€“ Vandals targeted the Islamic Center of Pflugerville covering the door of the mosque in feces and tearing pages of the Quran and throwing them to the ground covered with feces.
Omaha, Neb., November 2015 â€“ Officials with the Islamic Center in Omaha reported that someone spray-painted graffiti of an Eiffel Tower peace symbol, which was being used online as a sign of solidarity with those impacted by the Paris attacks.
St. Petersburg, Fla., November 2015 â€“ A voicemail threat was left at the Islamic Center of St. Petersburg just hours after the Paris terror attacks. The caller said in part: â€œWe are tired of your (expletive) and I (expletive) personally have a militia that is going to come down to your Islamic Society of Pinellas County and firebomb you and shoot whoever is there in the head. I donâ€™t care if they are (expletive) two-years-old or 100.â€
Portland, OR, November, 2015 â€“ Worshipers at the Portland Rizwan Mosque were met by a handful of sign-holding protesters shouting along the sidewalks outside the facility. One protestor was wearing a black t-shirt that said â€œProud Infidelâ€ while others were carrying signs that said â€œTHE WAGES OF SIN & DEATHâ€ and â€œJESUS SAVES FROM HELL.â€
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North Palm Beach, Fla., December, 2015 â€“ The Islamic Center of Palm Beach was vandalized, windows were broken and the prayer room was â€œtorn apart.â€ Joshua Warren Killets was arrested and charged with burglary and â€œdamaging property at a religious center.â€
Jersey City, N.J., December, 2015 â€“ The Al Tawheed Islamic Center received a letter that said, â€˜We do not want you here. We do not like you. You are evil.â€ The letter also said, Get the hell out of OUR COUNTRY and go back to the desert. GOD BLESS AMERICANS.â€
Phoenix, Ariz., December, 2015 â€“ Vandals broke lights and windows at the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix.Â Carl Dial was later arrested and charged with arson, commission of a hate crime and burglary.
Hawthorne, Calif., December, 2015 – The word â€œJesusâ€ was spray-painted on the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Baitus-Salaam Mosque and an object, later determined to be a plastic grenade, was placed inside the facility.
Joe Anuta. “Second Hate Crime Targets Kews Gardens Hills Mosque.” TimesLedger.Â http://www.timesledger.com/stories/2013/16/antimuslimthreat_web_04_16_q_2013_16.html.
“Oklahoma City Mosque Vandalized for 2nd Time.” KOCO. April 27, 2013.Â http://www.koco.com/news/oklahomanews/okc/oklahoma-city-mosque-vandalized-for-2nd-time/-/11777584/19920646/-/b6fu6uz/-/index.html.
“Vandals Target Islamic Mosque in Alpharetta.” WSB TV 2. May 28, 2013.Â http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/vandals-target-islamic-mosque-alpharetta/nX5FM/.
“Video: CAIR Rep Says Texas Mosque Vandalism Should Not Be Taken Lightly.” YouTube. June 4, 2013.Â https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kyqXljYkpOM.
Jennifer Lee Preyss. “Police Have Suspect in Victoria Islamic Center Vandalism – Victoria Advocate.” Victoria Advocate. July 12, 2013.Â http://www.victoriaadvocate.com/news/2013/jul/11/islamiccenter_follow_jp_071213_214483/.
“Video: CAIR Asks FBI to Probe Mass. Mosque Vandalism.” YouTube. August 29, 2013.Â https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SLjLZUAwhYA.
Reed Andrews. â€œNavy vet explains why he is against building a mosque in Virginia Beach,â€ WTKR News Channel 3, September 25, 2013, http://wtkr.com/2013/09/25/navy-vet-explains-why-he-is-against-building-a-mosque-in-virginia-beach/.
Brooke Whitson. â€œIslamic Center: Trespasser makes â€˜religiously bigotedâ€™ statements,â€ WMBF News, October 2, 2013. Available at: http://www.wmbfnews.com/story/23593027/islamic-center-reports-trespasser-makes-religiously-bigoted-comments.
Michael H O'Donnell. “Religious Discussion Dominates Pocatello Zoning Hearing on Mosque.” Idaho State Journal. February 13, 2014.Â http://www.idahostatejournal.com/members/religious-discussion-dominates-pocatello-zoning-hearing-on-mosque/article_895a36ea-9530-11e3-ab4f-001a4bcf887a.html.
Bob Roberts. “Bullet Fired At Orland Park Mosque During Prayer Service.” CBS Chicago. March 25, 2014. http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2014/03/25/bullet-fired-at-orland-park-mosque-during-prayer-service/.
Aysha Jamali. “(UPDATED) Terry Jones Plans Another Visit to Dearborn.” Pennsylvania Main Line News Covering Local News including Local Sports, Video and Multimedia Coverage, and Classified Advertising. May 28, 2014. http://www.pressandguide.com/articles/2014/05/28/news/doc538638f61a450631416882.txt.
“Burbank Man Protests outside Islamic Center in West Richland (w/video).” Loonwatchcom. October 01, 2014. http://www.loonwatch.com/2014/10/burbank-man-protests-outside-islamic-center-in-west-richland-wvideo/.
“LISTEN: Caller Threatens Muslims at Oklahoma Mosque with Beheading (CAIR).” YouTube. October 2, 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9BaJQxplbVU.
R.Stickney and Liberty Zabala. “Alleged Threat Made to San Diego Mosque.” NBC 7 San Diego. October 10, 2014. http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/FBI-Investigates-Alleged-Threat-to-San-Diego-Mosque-278806351.html.
Thomas Prohaska. “Wheatfield Supervisor Issues Letter on Islamic Center – The Buffalo News.” Www.buffaloNews.com. October 29, 2014. http://www.buffalonews.com/city-region/wheatfield/wheatfield-supervisor-issues-letter-on-islamic-center-20141029.
“WATCH: CAIR Asks FBI to Probe Shots Fired at California Mosque.” YouTube. November 4, 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SyXKFsRvf4Q.
Carmen Duarte. “Security around UA-area Mosque to Be Increased.” Arizona Daily Star. November 18, 2014. http://tucson.com/news/local/crime/security-around-ua-area-mosque-to-be-increased/article_95ceafcf-d5ef-565c-9af7-f2b04ab1bde8.html.
Stephen Baxter. “Deputies Plan to Release Video in Live Oak Mosque Graffiti Case.” Santa Cruz Sentinel. November 25, 2014. http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/general-news/20141124/deputies-plan-to-release-video-in-live-oak-mosque-graffiti-case.
CAIR-Philadelphia, Law Firm File Civil Rights Suit Against Bensalem Township Over Mosque Refusal.â€ December 8, 2014.Â http://www.cair.com/press-center/press-releases/12764-lawsuit-against-bensalem-township-over-mosque-denial.html.
Douglas, Jim. “Hundreds Expected to Protest Islamic Meeting in Garland.” WFAA. January 16, 2015.Â http://www.wfaa.com/story/news/local/2015/01/16/garland-islamic-protest/21901109/.
“Video: FBI to Probe Threat Targeting Ohio Mosque (CAIR).” YouTube. January 12, 2015.Â https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w1cMsgM3HGo.
Joanne Viviano. “Local Mosques Receive Threatening Phone Calls.” The Columbus Dispatch. February 20, 2015.Â http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2015/02/19/threats-against-mosques.html.
Stephen Di Bennedetto. “Lake in the Hills Mosque Receives Threatening Letter.” Northwest Herald. February 22, 2015.Â http://www.nwherald.com/2015/02/22/lake-in-the-hills-mosque-receives-threatening-letter/adcdeq3/.
Melissa Erickson. “Outpouring of Support Follows Threatening Letter at Ames Mosque.” Ames Tribune. March 03, 2015. http://amestrib.com/news/outpouring-support-follows-threatening-letter-ames-mosque.
Avi Selk. “Irving Police Step up Mosque Security amid Hate Mail Reports.” Dallas Morning News. April 9, 2015, http://www.dallasnews.com/news/20150409-irving-police-step-up-mosque-security-amid-hate-mail-reports.ece.
Hinton, Carla. “Islamic Mosque in Stillwater Also the Target of Vandals, Muslim Leaders Say.” NewsOK.com. April 16, 2015.Â http://newsok.com/islamic-mosque-in-stillwater-also-the-target-of-vandals-muslim-leaders-say/article/5410741.
“Threats Made Against Baltimore County Mosque,” CBS Baltimore. May 6, 2014, http://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2015/05/06/threats-made-against-baltimore-county-mosque/.
Kip Hill. “Hate Message Scrawled on Spokane Muslim Center,â€ The Spokesman-Review,Â July 9, 2015, http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2015/jul/09/hate-message-scrawled-on-spokane-muslim-center/.
Allison Manning. “Facebook Threats against Boston Mosque Lead to Federal Charges.” Boston.com. June 4, 2015, http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/2015/06/04/facebook-threats-against-boston-mosque-lead-federal-charges/TwNrR7QaiGARPRaRmt5mTN/story.html.