When the Masjid Al-Kareem mosque in Providence, Rhode Island, received a threatening letter calling Muslims a “vile and filthy people,” its members were so frightened they asked for and got extra police protection.
The 42-year-old mosque was far from alone.
November’s letter was one of 2,213 anti-Muslim incidents in the US last year, according to a report released on Tuesday by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
It found a 57 per cent increase in the number of incidents last year, up from 1,409 in 2015.
Incidents increased five per cent from 2014 to 2015.
The group had seen a rise in anti-Muslim incidents prior to Donald Trump’s stunning campaign and election victory but it said the acceleration in “bias incidents” was due in part to Trump’s focus on militant Islamist groups and anti-immigrant rhetoric.
Trump promised during his campaign to impose a temporary ban on Muslims coming to the US, a move which has since been blocked by challenges in court.
While Rhode Island’s oldest mosque was only threatened, others in Florida and Texas were set ablaze by arsonists.
The report included incidents from assaults and street harassment to employment discrimination and what CAIR considers unwarranted contact by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
It also showed a rise in anti-Muslim hate crimes to 260 in 2016, up 44 per cent from 180 a year earlier.
That includes all crimes recorded where CAIR saw evidence of anti-Muslim bias, not just those where hate crime charges were brought, director of the CAIR department on monitoring and combating Islamophobia, Corey Saylor, said.
“There was this widespread sense that we were going right back to how it was after 9/11,” Saylor said.
Faissal Elansari, who is on the Rhode Island mosque’s board, said the community was rallying against letters of hate.
“A lot of brothers and sisters from the Jewish and Christian communities gave us a lot of support, they called and sent support letters,” he said.
The CAIR report comes after the Anti-Defamation League recorded a 34 per cent rise in anti-Semitic acts in 2016.
“The 2016 presidential election and the heightened political atmosphere played a role in the increase,” the ADL said in last month’s report.