36 Anti-Muslim Incidents In The United States In The Last Month

Vandalism at mosques across the U.S. and other incidents have been reported since the deadly attacks in Paris.

Islamophobia is not new to the United States. But the past month, which saw terrorist attacks linked to ISIS in Paris and San Bernardino, has also seen a wave of discriminatory incidents that the nonprofit Council for American-Islamic Relations called “unprecedented.”

Some of those incidents — like Donald Trump’s calls to block all Muslim immigration to the United States — have been rhetorical, but others have crossed the line into action.

Although the FBI publishes yearly statistics detailing its hate crime investigations, no federal agency tracks monthly reports of aggressions against Muslims. What is more, the FBI’s reports only include the most serious incidents, such as homicides and beatings.

To fill in the gap, BuzzFeed News has compiled a partial list of news reports of Islamophobic incidents across the United States in the past 30 days. By its very nature, the list is incomplete, since it is very likely that most Islamophobic incidents go unreported. But it does provide a small window into the discrimination, both big and small, that American Muslims face every day.

1. Pregnant Muslim woman attacked in California

Police in San Diego, California, opened an investigation after a man reportedly insulted a pregnant woman and shoved her strolled into her abdomen on Nov. 13, the same night of the Paris attacks, NBC San Diego reported.

The woman, who was not identified but was reportedly wearing a hijab, told police that the man called her racial slurs before pushing the stroller, the station reported.

2. Mosque fired upon in Connecticut

Police, FBI investigate after bullets hit South Meriden mosque https://t.co/4qTseGU14q

In Connecticut, the FBI is investigating bullet holes that were discovered in the Baitul Aman Mosque in Meriden, the Associated Press reported.

Members of the mosque discovered it had apparently been targeted by a shooting when they arrived for evening prayer on Sunday, Nov. 15.

Calls to local police and the mosque were not immediately returned.

Charles Grady, FBI outreach specialist for the New Haven division, told BuzzFeed News that investigators have not yet classified the incident as a hate crime.

"The investigation is still ongoing and it won't be classified until there's some clarity," he said.

However, Salaam Bhatti, a spokesperson for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, of which the mosque is a member, told NBC News that one of the bullets pierced multiple walls before exiting out the back.

"The first reaction was, 'Thank God nobody was here,'" Bhatti said, adding that "true Islam" is about community building and reaching out to neighbors.

"These things that make us a stronger community," Bhatti said, "that is what Islam is about, not killing innocent people."

3. Muslim student's dorm room vandalized in Connecticut

Also in Connecticut, a Muslim student at UConn found the words “killed Paris” written under his dorm room name tag over the weekend of Nov. 15, local media reported.

Campus police are now investigating whether a hate crime occurred.

Mahmoud Hashem, a junior at the university, told WILX News his roommate was the first to notice the words written on his dorm room name tag.

He said both he and his roommate were deeply offended by the incident.

At a rally for tolerance at the university on Monday, Hashem told the crowd that he first thought his friend was joking when he was told someone had written some "bad words" under his name tag.

Students hoping for change. Teaching tolerance to incoming students along with other orientation programs @uconn

"So when I go and find out that I was so upset. I actually cried at first, but then I heard my roommates talk with each other and they take pictures and called the [resident advisor]," he said. "I was so happy because they are the first people who support me."

4. Armed protesters gather outside mosque in Texas

armed protestors at Irving Islamic Center, protesting the rumored "shariah court" here they read about online.

About a dozen protesters gathered with guns and anti-Islam signs for several hours on Nov. 15 at an Islamic Center in Irving, Texas, the Dallas Morning News reported.

The protesters did not interact with people going in and out of the mosque, and police were on hand. Organizers told the Dallas Morning News and Fox 4 they were in opposition to Syrian refugees coming to the U.S., fearing another attack like the recent one in Paris.

It wasn't the first time anti-Islam sentiments have gotten attention in the city. Irving was formerly the home of Ahmed Mohammed, the 14-year-old who was arrested after bringing a homemade clock to school.

The city's mayor also earlier this year said she stopped an attempt to bring Sharia law to the city. In fact, local Muslim leaders had established a tribunal to offer voluntary, religious guidance to community members through divorce, family, and business disputes.

5. Shots fired at Muslim family's home in Florida

The Elmsari family of Orlando, Florida, arrived at their home on Nov. 15 to find a series of bullet holes on their garage door and walls, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

"Papa, what is that?" Amir Elmsari's 11-year-old daughter asked her father, he told the paper. "Is that a bullet?"

One of the bullets reportedly entered through the garage door and tore through several walls, making its way to a dresser in the master bedroom of the house. Other bullets were found in a stucco wall by the garage door.

"How good would they feel if they happened to harm one of us?" Elmrasi told the Sentinel. "What satisfaction? I just don't understand."

6. Man calls 911 to threaten to shoot Muslims in Oklahoma

In Norman, Oklahoma, a 47-year-old man was shot by cops on Nov. 15 after he called 911 and threatened to shoot Muslims in retaliation for the attacks in Paris, police say.

In the call to 911, Mark James Riedel said he had a mental illness and was going to go out on the street and start shooting “anything that looks like a Muslim after what they did to France."

Listen to the full call here:


A Norman Police spokesperson said officers went to Riedel’s house and attempted to speak with him — but he remained uncooperative. In a second call to 911, while officers were outside his house he told operators he was going to start shooting at cars.

After hanging up the phone, Riedel came out of the front door of the residence with a pistol in his hand. Several officers gave verbal commands for him to put the weapon down, but he did not comply and allegedly pointed the gun at the officers. Two officers fired their weapons at him.

Listen to the second 911 call:


Riedel was taken to an area hospital where he is currently in stable condition, according to OU Medical personnel. No other citizens or officers were injured during the incident.

Officers located a loaded handgun at the scene. Detectives investigating the incident have not charged Riedel, but the investigation is ongoing.

7. Protesters shout hateful slogans outside mosque in Oregon

On Nov. 15, a small group of protesters gathered outside the Rizwan Mosque in Portland, Oregon, and shouted hateful slogans as the congregation gathered for an afternoon prayer, KATU reported.

"This is the Bible!," one of the protesters shouted, according to video of the incident. "This is the word of god! You Qu'ran is the word of man! It is the doctrine of demons! Cause that pervert Mohammed was seduced by a demon and worship Satan! God hates Muslims!"

8. Uber driver beaten in North Carolina by passenger who mistakenly believed he was Muslim

Samson Woldemichael, an Ethiopian-American Uber driver from Charlotte, North Carolina, told WCNC that he was brutally beaten on Nov. 15 by a passenger who mistakenly believed he was Muslim.

"He hit me very hard from behind and then he choked me from behind, and I was struggling to breathe," Wolemichael, who said he is a Christian, told the TV station. "He said he hates 'you Muslims.' I told him I'm not a bad guy, and he said even if you are not Muslim I'm gonna kill you right here."

9. Acts of vandalism at the Islamic Center in Texas

Early on Monday, Nov. 16, worshippers arrived at a mosque in Pflugerville, Texas, to find it had been damaged by vandals.

The Islamic Center of Pflugerville, located in a strip mall near Austin, was smeared with feces and pages torn from the Qur’an.

Police told BuzzFeed News the case is being investigated as a hate crime.

“We’ve never had anything like this happen before,” Assistant Pflugerville Police Chief Jim McLean told BuzzFeed News.

“We’re not real sure what the reason for it was,” he added. “We don’t have a lot of information on it. There’s not video or anything we can wrap our hands around. Our detectives are out working it. We have intelligence we’re trying to gather about folks who may have done it.”

Faisal Naeem, who sits on the mosque’s board, told BuzzFeed News he was surprised by the incident, having previously found the Austin metro area to be relatively liberal for Texas.

"We've never had anything like this at our mosque, nor any very visible negative reactions," he said. "This was the first one and there wasn't any prior threats."

Naeem would not speculate as to whether whoever was behind the vandalism was motivated by a desire to seek vengeance for the Paris attacks. Making assumptions about the negative behavior of others, he said, is what Islamophobes do.

"Being a Muslim, part of the Islamic faith, there are so many times when people assume all Muslims are like these terrorists in Paris," he said. "Those are assumptions and generalizations, so I don't assume anything."

However, Sarwat Husain, president of the San Antonio chapter of Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), told BuzzFeed News that Paris was likely a motivating factor.

"Of course we suspect that because it occurred right after that," she said. "They never had any incidents before this."

10. Islamic Center vandalized in Nebraska

CAIR on Nov. 16 requested the FBI investigate vandalism that appeared on an Islamic center in Omaha, Nebraska.

The symbol of the Eiffel Tower peace sign, which has circulated online after the Paris attacks as a powerful signal of solidarity, was spray-painted onto an outside wall of the mosque.

Local police did not immediately return a request for comment, but CAIR said it's the third time the mosque has been vandalized in the past four months.

"Looking at the symbol itself, yes, it's a good thing," Omaha Islamic Center chairman Mohammed Rasheed told local station KETV. "But putting it on a mosque — it's like you're relating it to the Muslims."

He added that he is worried for the safety of his fellow worshippers.

"They need to have some motivation and unfortunately hate looks like the motivating factor here," Rasheed said.

In a statement to local media, the local mosque on Monday strongly condemned the attacks in Paris, describing ISIS as "un-Islamic and morally repugnant."

11. Muslim college student threatened, nearly run over in Ohio

Haneen Jasim, a 22-year-old pre-med student at the University of Cincinnati, told WLWT that she was nearly run over on campus on Nov. 16 by a man who cursed her and called her a "terrorist."

Jasim said she was crossing the street when a man started yelling at her and then drove towards her, as if he wanted to run her over. Three friends managed to pull her into the sidewalk just in time.

"I'm terrified to cross the street," Jasim said.

12. Threatening calls to a mosque in Florida

A 43-year-old Seminole man was arrested by the FBI on Nov. 17 after allegedly threatening to firebomb a mosque and shoot children in the head in St. Petersburg.

In a statement to BuzzFeed News, the FBI confirmed U.S. Attorney A. Lee Bentley charged Martin Alan Schnitzler with making a telephonic threat to kill, injure, or intimidate using fire or an explosive.

If convicted, Schnitzler faces up to 10 years in federal prison.

According to court documents, during Friday, Nov. 13, as the attacks were unfolding in Paris, Schnitzler left voicemails at the telephone number for the Islamic Center of Pinellas County, which is located in Pinellas Park.

In one message, Schnitzler said he was calling in reference to the Paris attacks, and warned that he was going to go to the Islamic center and “firebomb you and shoot whoever is there.”

A St. Petersburg police spokesperson told BuzzFeed News authorities were able to arrest Schnitzler because he gave his name in the message.

“He threatened to have a militia firebomb the mosque and kill the people inside, but he left his name and the FBI arrested him," the spokesperson said.

Here is the first call:

"Yes, I’m a red-blooded American watching the news in France. I’m over this shit. I’m calling all mosques in Pinellas County. I’m bringing it to you baby, I’m tired of this shit. Guard your children. I don’t care if you are extremists or not. I'm tired of your shit. Get out of my fucking country. I am going to bomb your fucking location. My name is Martin Schnitzler and you can fucking come and find me and report me whenever you want. I am going to fucking take you guys down. I’m sick of you sand n*****s fucking the world up. Fuck you. Fuck Allah. We’ll see how you like it when someone firebombs your fucking place, starts shooting people at will in our country. I’m taking the war to you and I’m going to have a big following. We’re over this shit. You’re not the only mosque in this call. Everyone is getting this call tonight. Fuck you."

Here is the second call:

"Yes, I was calling in respect to the event on the 23rd and 24th of October, as well as the picnic on the 18th of October. I’ve already missed all that. But I’m basically going through your calendar and I just wanted to let you know with all this coming up with what’s going on in France, we’re tired of your shit and I’m going to fucking personally have a militia that’s going to come down to your Islamic Society in Pinellas County and firebomb you, shoot whoever’s there on sight in the head. I don’t care if they’re fucking 2 years old or 100. I’m over your fucking shit and the whole country. Check out Facebook. Check out postings. This attack in France is the last straw, and, you know, fuck you, fuck Allah, fuck your sand n****r fucking ass pit. Get the fuck out of my country. And my name is Martin Schnitzler. Come find me, please. Please report me because I would love, love it. You’re going to fucking die, Masjid Sunnah, or whatever the fuck your name is, you fucking sand n****r.”

Hassan Shibly, executive director of the Florida Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), told BuzzFeed News people in the community were relieved Schnitzler had been arrested.

"Many members had been messaging us, asking why a man who would threaten to shoot our children and blow up our places of worship was still out on the streets, so we're very relieved right now," he said.

Shibly condemned the terrorism in Paris, but said the attacks had brought to the fore rising anti-Muslim sentiment.

"Everybody's on edge," he said.

In the past weekend alone, Shibly said the community had been dealing with a half-dozen potential hate crimes, adding that he was not authorized to speak on the specifics of several cases due to those Muslims involved wishing to remain anonymous.

13. Hearing cancelled in Virginia after men threaten Muslim congregation seeking approval to build mosque

On Nov. 17, a man who identified himself as a former Marine interrupted a town hall meeting where neighbors were discussing plans for a new mosque in Spotsylvania, Virgnia, to call all Muslims terrorists, WUSA reported.

"You can say whatever you want, but every Muslim is a terrorist," the man can be heard saying in a video of the incident as the crowd applauds. "Shut your mouth, I don't want to hear your mouth. Everything that I can do to keep you from doing what you are doing, I will do."

Mulsim attendees to the meeting later told the Washington Post that several people insulted them and threatened after accusing them of planning to use the mosque to hide Syrian refugees or undocumented immigrants.

Citing safety concerns, the police closed the meeting shortly after the disruption, the paper reported.

14. Threats to "shoot up a mosque" in Texas

On Nov. 17, a 26-year-old man was arrested near Houston for allegedly saying he would "shoot up a mosque" to avenge the Paris attacks.

Clayton Alexander Cansler of New Territory was arrested after he allegedly wrote to a friend that he would attack the Islamic place of worship and uploaded a picture to Facebook of an assault rifle and ammunition, the Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office said.

The Bible verse from Joshua 1:9 that allegedly accompanied the photo of the weapons states: "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."

A person in New Jersey then called police, who notified the authorities in Fort Bend County.

"Sheriff’s deputies noted the suspect’s home is in close proximity to a mosque and responded quickly to the home," the sheriff's office said.

Cansler was arrested at the local airport where he works.

Bob Haenel, a spokesman for the sheriff's office, told BuzzFeed News that authorities did not discover any weapons at Cansler's house.

Cansler was charged with making a terroristic threat and released Wednesday morning after posting a $10,000 bond.

15. Social media threats against heavily Muslim town in Michigan

On Nov. 17, the FBI's Detroit office opened a hate crime investigation into a series of social media threats against the city of Dearborn, Michigan, the city with the largest Arab American population in the United States, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Although no arrests have been made, the investigation focused on a since-deleted Twitter account belonging to an unidentified Michigan woman, the paper reported.

"Dearborn, MI, has the highest Muslim population in the United States," read one of the deleted tweets. "Let's fuck that place up and send a message to ISIS. We're coming.

16. Flight delayed in Maryland after passenger scared by Muslim man looking at cellphone

A Spirit Airlines flight from Baltimore to Chicago was delayed on Nov. 17 after a passenger told the crew he was concerned by a reportedly Muslim man looking at news of the Paris attack on his smartphone, the Baltimore Sun reported.

Following the passenger's report, four Muslims were removed for the plane and questioned. After it became clear that there was no threat, the plane was allowed to take off.

"These passengers were inconvenienced and forced to endure humiliating treatment and invasive questioning for no apparent substantial reason other than because their perceived ethnicity caused alarm in a fellow passenger," Zainab Chaudry, a spokesperson for the Maryland chapter of CAIR, said in a statement.

Spirit Airlines denied that the four passengers' religion played a role, saying they had been questioned because one of them was breaking aviation regulations by looking at his cell phone before take off.

17. Texas man arrested after walking into mosque wearing tactical clothes and shouting insults

Police in San Antonio, Texas, arrested Mariano Talavera on Nov. 18 after he allegedly walked into the Islamic Center of San Antonio and began wiping his boots on prayer mats while shouting insults and obscenities, Fox 29 reported.

Talavera, who was charged with criminal trespass, was reportedly wearing "military-style" clothes and carrying an American flag when he walked into the mosque during prayers.

18. Man charged after leaving fake bomb in Virginia mosque

Reporting from Dar Al-Hijrah mosque in Arlington, VA, today, where 3 US Reps joined Friday prayer to show solidarity

Prosecutors in Fairfax County, Virginia, slapped a man with several criminal charges stemming from allegations that he broke into a mosque and left a fake bomb on Nov. 19, CBS DC reported.

Chester Gore, 27, allegedly broke into the Dar al-Hijrah mosque in Falls Church to leave a fake explosive device, causing hundreds of dollars in damages and terrifying the congregation.

19. Muslim woman finds hateful note telling her to "Go Away" in her car in Texas

On Nov. 19, Theresa Church found a note saying "Go away" on her windshield outside her gym in Austin, KVUE reported.

"And I just felt like, you know, where am I supposed to go? This is, you know, where I was born, this is where I've always been, this is where my family is," Church told the TV station.

20. Muslim sixth-grader attacked in public school in New York

On Nov. 19, three boys attacked a Muslim girl at Public School 89 in the Bronx, tearing at her hijab and calling her "ISIS," Inside Edition reported.

21. Muslim college student attacked in parking lot in California

On Nov. 20, a man reportedly tried to rip off a Muslim college student's hijab at a parking lot near San Diego State University, prompting local police to open a hate crime investigation, the Associated Press reported.

22. Flight halted in Illinois after passenger hears two men speaking Arabic

Two Palestinian men from Philadelphia told NBC 10 that they were questioned while trying to board a Southwest Airlines flight in Chicago after a man heard them speaking Arabic and became afraid to fly with them.

"If that person doesn't feel safe, let them take the bus," Maher Khali told the TV station. "We're American citizens just like everybody else."

Khali and his friend, Anas Ayyad, said they were forced to call the police after the crew wouldn't let them board. Southwest Airlines issued a statement saying there had been a "disagreement" with two customers.

"Safety is our primary focus, and our employees are trained to make decisions to ensure that safety, and to safeguard the security of our crews and customers on every flight," the statement read.

23. Mosque in Texas receives threatening letter

On Nov. 20, the Islamic Center of Corpus Christi in Texas received a letter with a cartoon of the Prophet Mohamed and a threat to "convert to Christianity before it's too late," KRISTV reported.

"When I saw the letter I was a little surprised and appalled," Naved Qazi, a member of the mosque, told the TV station. "We are always here standing for safety and peace, and we have the support of our community for the most part. So to see a letter like that is a little bit alarming."

The letter was reportedly sent from Culver City, California, and has prompted the FBI to open a hate crime investigation.

24. Mailman charged with hate crimes after attacking Muslim women in New York

Prosecutors charged a postal worker with hate crimes after he allegedly insulted and spat on two Muslim women in the Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn on Nov. 20, DNAinfo reported.

The mailman, 33-year-old Dainton Coley, reportedly told the two hijabis that he wanted to "burn their temple down" before following them into a bodega, where he allegedly spat on one of the women.

25. KKK leaves pamphlets outside Florida mosque

Pamphlets bearing Ku Klux Klan imagery and asking readers to "support gay bashing" and deporting what it called "mud people" were left outside the Baymeadows Mosque on Nov. 20, the Florida Times Union reported.

26. Arizona man threatens to travel to New York with weapons and "stop at every mosque"

View this video on YouTube


John Ritzheimer, an Arizonan who became the center of national attention earlier this year when he organized an armed rally outside a mosque in Phoenix, became the subject of an FBI warning after he posted a video on Nov. 25 in which he threatened to travel to a Muslim community in upstate New York with weapons, Reuters reported.

Ritzheimer posted the video in response to an editorial from the Islamic Post, a community paper from the small Muslim hamlet of Islamberg, New York, in which he was called a terrorist.

"Fuck you Muslims! Fuck all of you" Ritzheimer can be heard saying in the video. "We're going to stop at virtually every mosque along the way and take a picture flipping them off, telling them to get fucked."

In the video, Ritzheimer displays a handgun and says he's "fucking ready" for "Muslim fucks."

27. Muslim cab driver shot in Pennsylvania

The FBI opened a hate crime investigation after a man shot a Muslim cab driver in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, on Nov. 26, NBC reported.

Anthony Mohamed, 26, was charged with attempted murder and other offenses after he allegedly shot the unidentified cab driver. Although he has not yet been charged with a hate crime, police are investigating his motives.

The local chapter of CAIR issued a statement saying Mohamed had made "bias statements" against Muslims.

The Muslim cab driver, who was not identified, reportedly survived the attack.

28. Bullet-ridden Qu'ran left outside Islamic store in California

The FBI is reviewing an incident in which a bullet-ridden copy of the Qu'ran was left outside an Islamic store in Anaheim on Dec. 1, NBC reported.

"Anyone has the right to be a bigot, but when that bigotry is expressed through the targeting of individuals or businesses through acts of intimidation similar to a cross burning, it crosses the line into criminal behavior," Hussam Ayloush, director of CAIR's Los Angeles chapter, told the TV station.

"If you shoot up a Quran on your own property, that is bigoted freedom of expression. If you deliver that bullet-riddled Quran to a Muslim home or business, that is an act of intimidation and a hate crime."

29. Windows smashed at Islamic Center in Florida

Late at night on Dec. 3, a man broke every single window of the Islamic Center of Palm Beach, CBS reported.

30. Muslim shop owner beaten in New York

Astoria is standing up against hate crimes after attack on Sarker Haque. https://t.co/YM6pqIuS28

On Dec. 5, Sarker Haque, a shop owner from Astoria, Queens, was attacked by a man who allegedly shouted he wanted to "kill all Muslims," as BuzzFeed News previously reported.

31. Pig's head left outside Pennsylvania mosque

Police are investigating after someone left a severed pig's head outside the Al Aqsa Islamic Society in West Philadelphia on Dec. 7, BuzzFeed News reported.

32. California state employee insults, throws hot coffee at Muslim men

On Dec. 7, Rasheed Albershari, a Muslim resident of Alameda County uploaded a video to Facebook showing a woman identified as Denise Slader, an employee of the California Department of Corrections, hurling insults at him and his friends after she saw them praying in a park, BuzzFeed News reported.

33. New Jersey mosque receives threatening letter

The West Side Islamic Center in Jersey City receiver a threatening letter on Dec. 8, NJ.com reported.

"We do not want you here," the letter reportedly reads. "We do not like you. You are evil. Get the hell out of our country and go back to the desert. God bless America."

34. Somali restaurant set on fire in North Dakota

On Dec. 8, somebody torched a Somali restaurant in Grand Forks, North Dakota, days after a Nazi symbol was spray-painted into the restaurant, TwinCities.com reported.

Juba Coffee House had served as a meeting place for young members of the Grand Forks Somali community, the website reported.

35. Fire at Coachella mosque believed to be arson

A 23-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of deliberately setting fire to a mosque in Coachella Valley, California.

The fire, which is being investigated by the FBI and ATF, as well as the Riverside County Sheriff's Department, is being investigated as a possible hate crime.

The fire burned in the lobby of the mosque, but authorities said there was smoke damage to the rest of the building as well. No injuries were reported.

Carl James Dial Jr., 23, was booked on suspicion of a hate crime, arson, second-degree burglary and maliciously setting a fire.

23-year-old, Palm Desert resident, Carl James Dial Jr. arrested for Coachella Islamic hate crime. No further info.

36. Two mosques in California vandalized

Two mosques in Hawthorne, California, were found vandalized early Sunday morning, police officials said.

At one location, a bomb squad was called after a plastic replica of what appeared to be a hand grenade was found on the driveway, according to a statement from the Hawthorne Police Department.

The FBI is assisting local authorities in investigating the incident, officials told BuzzFeed News.

The fence to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Baitus-Salaam Mosque was spray-painted with the word "Jesus," police said.

Officers were also called to the Islamic Center of Hawthorne, which was vandalized with the words, "Jesus is the way."

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