Monday, June 28, 2010

Hate Crime or Dirty Prank?

For the past few weeks I've been helping at some local halaqahs by teaching the Seerah--the biography of the Prophet Muhammad (saws.) And recently we've been discussing how the Muslims were persecuted by the Quraysh in Mecca before the hijrah (migration to Medina.) Some of the enemies of Islam would really go out of their way to attack and annoy the Muslims, and especially the Prophet Muhammad (saws.) They would drop the innards of slaughtered animals on him, and dump their garbage at his doorstep. It's not like they're just lazily opposed, but they went out of their way to cause trouble.

And that's what came to mind when I heard about this: Feces smeared on Muslim van near Bellevue mosque. I heard about it on Thursday before it was reported to police through the brothers who operate the van. The van is covered in advertising for the WhyIslam? project, with the website address and the hotline number 1-877-WHY-ISLAM on the sides and back. So it's not just a "Muslim van" but a van with messages about Islam, clearly owned by Muslims promoting Islam. So the first thought that comes to mind is probably "ew, gross," but I think it's hard not to assume that the van was targeted by whatever sick person rubbed their hands in dog poo.

The van was parked on a public street (where it is parked quite often, actually) across from the mosque in town. And Thursday afternoon someone spotted the muck on the windshield, driver's side window, and driver's door handle.

Thankfully, the van wasn't damaged in any way and we can just wash it off, so I understand the police reacting like it's not a very big deal--and realistically I don't think there's much that they can do. I live in the same neighborhood, and know how quiet it is at night, so I think it's likely that this happened while nobody was watching, so there's not a way to catch whoever did it.

But should we consider it a hate crime? Or just a prank by some kid or drunk who happened to drive by? I think it's likely that the van was specifically vandalized because of the message on it, and support the decision to report it to police. (Although involving the media seems a bit unnecessary, in my opinion.) Now in case there is any escalation (should the culprit become more bold and damage property), this previous incident will have been documented. In case that there are more incidents of vandalism and violence directed at Muslims, I think they should have the help of law enforcement to protect them. And since there does seem to be a national trend in that direction (more attacks on Muslims and mosques), it's better to be on the safe side.


The Dynamic Hamza 21 said...

I don't believe this incident is cause for alarm though the Northwest is known for White supremacists. I think it would fit the definition of a "hate crime" but by the van being vandalized in one area (windshield) I wouldn't worry about it.

If someone really wanted to show some hatred towards Muslims they could have broken windows or the headlights or spray painted the van. Since that didn't happen I would worry about being targeted for more "hate crimes".

Anonymous said...

There are Muslims that have issues with the whyislam forum...maybe it was someone from Islamfactor forum...hmmm maybe