As Muslims throughout Coachella, California were making their way to Friday prayer, a molotov cocktail bomb was thrown into the main lobby of the Islamic Society of Palm Springs.
The fire was reported around 12:09 P.M. and was contained to the front lobby area. According to authorities, smoke damage was reported throughout the mosque.
Following the incident, a group of grieving Muslims gathered in front of the mosque to pray. Keep in mind, this very same mosque was shot at last year, with six bullets hitting the building and a parked car.
Abed Ayoub from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee was very surprised about the recent attack in Coachella due to the diversity of the area. He stated that through his work, he’s spent a lot of time working in Coachella and the incident in itself is very unfortunate and does not represent the community as a whole.
He is hoping that everyone is safe, law enforcement has resolved this issue quickly and the community can heal and move on. He also went on to state that the rise in attacks on Islamic centers have been troubling.
Today’s horrendous attacks in Coachella add to the growing list of rising Islamophobia in America. This year, gunshots were fired into a mosque in Connecticut, armed men protested the “Islamization of America” outside an Islamic center in Texas and death threats were called into mosques in Florida, Maryland and Virginia.
Corey Saylor, a Council on American–Islamic Relations (CAIR) spokesman compiled a study and shared that this year alone, American mosques and Islamic centers have been the victims of vandalism, harassment and anti-Muslim bigotry at an all time high.
The study reported that least 63 times this year, mosques and Islamic centers have been under attack. After today’s heinous attack, that number has risen now to 64 times a house of worship has been attacked. Saylor went on to caution that the data is preliminary and the real number of incidents at mosques is most likely higher.
Ayoub also confirmed the number is most likely higher because a major issue they see is mosques underreporting and not wanting to deal with getting law enforcement involved.
He went on to say, sometimes an individual is a victim, yet they don’t know they are victims.
The issue with this is, if a perpetrator is not apprehended and disciplined for their bigotry, they can potentially go on and commit larger criminal acts.
To me, as sad as this is, that we can’t go pray without being fearful for our lives, I find it interesting that the same people who are “fighting against Islam,” are committing the very acts that they are accusing radicals of.
Heads up, fighting fire with fire only makes a fire larger. As the election year progresses, we can only see that fire being fueled and getting larger by the rhetoric that current presidential candidates have been spewing for votes.
Dalia Mogahed, director of research at the Institute of Social Policy and Understanding, said, “Studies suggest that anti-Islamic sentiment increases during presidential election years, when some politicians try to show their hawkish side by talking tough about Muslims.”
Terrorism isn’t specifically just tied to a “radical Muslim,” terrorism comes in all shapes, forms and sizes. The current suspect in this attack who is being detained by the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department proves that.