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CurrentIslamophobia

The Growing Reality of Mosques Being the Targets of Islamophobic and Anti-Muslim Crime

The horrific attack on mosques in Christchurch and Quebec proves that terrorists and white supremacists will inflict the worst violence on Muslims. These tragic incidents must serve as a reminder that more needs to be done to protect mosques.

Recently there have been news stories about mosques around the world being vandalised and attacked in an attempt to scare Muslims at their holy places of worship. For many Muslims who will be attending prayers during the holy month of Ramadan, it can unfortunately mean the need to be extra cautious and vigilant to prepare for any dire and dangerous situations.

Here is a summary of countries that have recently experienced mosque attacks:

Greece

A mosque in the village of Episkopi in Limassol was vandalised with graffiti on Thursday 25th March 2021. According to the Turkish News Agency-Cyprus (TAK), individuals wrote slogans with blue paint praising the Greek revolt against the Ottoman Empire on its anniversary of March 25, 1821. The slogans included “Turks, you will die.” There was also a Greek flag and a cross drawn on the walls, doors, and steps of the mosque

President Ersin Tatar stated that the “Greek Cypriot mentality was once again demonstrated by this event,” saying “it is also worth recalling that during the period of 1963-1974, hundreds of our mosques were attacked and destroyed.”

“Our advice to the Greek Cypriot Administration and its leadership is that it should not organize and support such racist and fascist attacks, prevent them and arrest those responsible as soon as possible,” he added.

There have previously been other racist mosque attacks against Turkish Cypriots in Cyprus but the perpetrators have not been found. In 2013, a historical mosque in the Denya region in Limasol was set on fire. It took a year for it to be restored but in 2016 it was set on fire again.

France

On Sunday 11th April 2021 a mosque and Muslim cultural centre in the western city of Rennes was vandalised. The graffiti included slogans such as “L’Immigration tue!” (immigration kills!) There were also slogans insulting Islam, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), references to restart the Crusades, and for Catholicism to be made the state religion

In the same week in Nantes, Western France, vandals set fire to the door of a mosque. In addition, a 24-year-old neo-Nazi was charged for making threats against a mosque in Le Mans, which is also in western France. Many cite the recently proposed “anti-separatism” bill, (which is widely referred to as the “anti-Muslim bill”) for the recent mosque attacks in France just days before Ramadan. 

In February 2021, the words, “No to Islam, go back to your village” were sprayed across the fence on the site of the Eyyub Sultan Mosque in Strasbourg. It is currently under construction but once it is completed, it will be Europe’s largest mosque. The Grand Mosque of Strasbourg said the act of hatred and intolerance “aims to divide the national community and to pit religious communities against each other, while they live in perfect harmony.” 

The French Council of Muslim Worship (CFCM) believes the Islamophobic slogans on the mosque in Renne are part of a separatist movement whose ideology is inspired by the terrorist, Brenton Tarrant. He opened fire on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand in March 2019, murdering 51 people.

Canada

On Monday 5th April 2021, a masked man was caught on video continuously shooting an air rifle aimed at Assahaba Islamic Community Centre in Montreal. At the time of the shooting, 12 people were taking part in an Arabic course. Luckily no one was injured or killed but pockmarks from the bullets were left in the glass. The National Council of Canadian Muslims’ Yusuf Faqiri called the incident “another devastating blow to the feeling of safety and security for Quebec Muslims.” 

On January 29, 2017, a French-Canadian man, Alexandre Bissonnette, brutally shot and killed 6 people at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City, a mosque in the Sainte-Foy neighbourhood of Quebec.

For mosques with historical significance, governments could restrict access to the public but that does not mean these mosques will be exempt from future attacks. There needs to be more done by social media platforms to prevent anti-Muslim terror organisations from being active on social media to spread their hatred.

World leaders need to be mindful of the anti-Muslim and Islamophobic rhetoric they use, and local governments and police departments need to support their mosques that are consistently under attack and establish security strategies by closely working with mosque leaders. 

An attack on any place of worship is an attack on the entire community. Muslims are being unfairly targeted and the rise in Islamophobia is a major contributor, which gives people the confidence to commit such heinous crimes.

The horrific attack on mosques in Christchurch and Quebec proves that terrorists and white supremacists will inflict the worst violence on Muslims. These tragic incidents must serve as a reminder that more needs to be done to protect mosques.

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