CAIRO – Mosques in the United States have come under attacks following a wave of anti-America protests that swept the Muslim world over a movie insulting Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him).
“Nothing like this has ever happened to us before, even after 9/11,” Ehsan Ahmed, a director of the Islamic Center of Harrisonburg mosque in Virginia and an economics professor at nearby James Madison University, told The Washington Post on Sunday, September 16.
Insulting graffiti and racial insults were scrawled on the center’s walls on Friday.
|In the Prophet's Footsteps|
“This is America,” a warning was written on the wall by the attackers, followed by another slur.
“We have always been welcomed here, and we participate in many community activities,” said Ahmed.
“We can’t say what their motive was, but the timing is very coincidental.”
The Dar al-Hijrah Mosque in Falls Church was also attacked on Saturday, with the windows of about 30 cars parked around smashed.
A Fairfax County police spokeswoman described the incident as a “random act of vandalism” that was scattered over a widespread area and that “the mosque was not at all the target.”
Muslim leaders, however, linked the attacked to anti-America protests that engulfed the Muslim world over a US-made film insulting Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him).
“This anti-Islamic video has stirred people up, and so has the attack on the Sikh temple in Wisconsin,” Mohammed Aslam Afridi, a Pakistani-born veterinarian who is president of the mosque, said.
“People are angry and upset. But we are all children of Adam. This is my Harrisonburg, my Virginia and my country.”
Protests have engulfed the Muslim world on Tuesday September 11 – the 11th anniversary of the attacks -- over a US-made film defaming Prophet Muhammad.
Titled “Innocence of Muslims”, the film portrays the Prophet as a fool, philanderer and a religious fake.
The movie was promoted by US pastor Terry Jones, who angered Muslims in 2010 with plans to burn the Noble Qur’an.
Jones called the film a "satirical" movie on the life of the Muslim Prophet, saying he showed a promotional video trailer after staging a symbolic "trial" of the Prophet.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has described the film as “disgusting and reprehensive”, saying the government has nothing to do with the movie.
"The United States government had absolutely nothing to do with this video. We absolutely reject its content and message," Clinton said at the start of talks with senior Moroccan officials in Washington on Thursday.
"To us, to me personally, this video is disgusting and reprehensible. It appears to have a deeply cynical purpose: to denigrate a great religion and to provoke rage."
Muslims, however, found sympathetic support from their community following attacks on their worship places.
“This incident has given people an opportunity to reach out and get to know their neighbors, to build something positive from it,” said Kai Degner, the council member and a real estate agent.
Degner has set up a website called “We are all Harrisonburg,” inviting residents to attend a solidarity meeting at the mosque Sunday to which more than 500 people signed up.
“Our city is growing and changing and becoming more diverse, with 57 languages in our schools. Change can require adjustment, but we have had no horror stories here.”
Residents in the Dar al-Hijrah neighborhood have also expressed surprise and concern after hearing the news about the attack on the worship place.
“Oh, dear. I was worried something like this would happen,” said Kathleen Kline Moore, pastor of the First Christian Church of Falls Church, one block away.
“These people are our friends, and we always let them park in our church lot on Fridays. We support them and we absolutely deplore what has happened to them.”
Condemning attacks on US diplomatic missions, Muslim leaders have called on their community to tell the world about American society.
“We should not fall into the trap of people who want to portray Muslims as violent people,” Imam Mohamed Magid told worshippers at the All Dulles American Muslim Society.
“We should not express our anger with violence and breaking things and taking innocent people’s lives.”
The Washington-based Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) has also issued a video appeal in Arabic, asking Muslims not to blame the US government for the offensive film.
“Both sides are wrong. The video was disgusting, and the violence was totally wrong,” said Zahid Mughal, 38, a Pakistani American who runs a gas station in Arlington County.
“Any fool can put a video on YouTube, and by reacting so violently, you just give the extremists what they want.”The United States is home to a Muslim minority of between six to seven million.
Related Links:Revealing Anti-Islam Film Producers
UK Muslims Want Prophet Manners
US Muslims Urge Prophet-like Behavior
Prophet Film Fuels Muslim World
Prophet Film Spurs Egyptian Anger at US