An Islamic school in Cooper City and a mosque in Miami Gardens were targets of virulent, anti-Muslim messages over the weekend, with hateful words spray-painted across a wall and an email vowed ‘to kill’’ all Muslims.
The words “F--- Muslims” were painted in bright red letters on a wall at Nur-Ul-Islam Academy in Cooper City. Rubina Tariq, the school’s principal, learning of the message at about 6:30 a.m. Monday, immediately called the Broward Sheriff’s Office.
“A small group of radicals cannot destroy any community or any religion,” she said, adding that the school, which sits off Stirling Road, has strong relationships with the nearby church, synagogue and law enforcement and local government. “I am so grateful to the sheriff’s department and mayor.”
By 12:30 p.m., the words were cleaned up, and the 400-plus students at the preK-12 school went home after taking final exams.
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On Saturday, an email was sent to the Islamic Center of Greater Miami in Miami Gardens with a slew of short sentences: “Islam is cancer.” “Islam is a disease.’’ … “I will burn the Koran.” … “I want to kill every Muslims around the world.”
Abdul Hamid Samra, the imam at the mosque, called the email “nasty” and said it’s “sad to think people think that way.”
“We’re against killing innocent people, and the incidents in Paris or California can’t be justified in any way and should not be directed to the faith,” he said. “These people are criminals.”
Recently, incidents against Muslims have been making headlines across the country. In Southern California a mosque was set on fire, in West Palm Beach, windows were smashed at a mosque and in Tampa two Muslim women were attacked.
Anti-Muslim sentiment has been on the rise since last month's Islamic State-led terrorist attacks in Paris, followed by the mass shooting earlier this month in San Bernardino, California, by a Muslim husband and wife. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has called for banning Muslims from entering the country “until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on.’’
Thania Clevenger, civil rights director for the Council of Islamic-America Relations, Florida chapter, says her office has received 20 general discrimination cases against Muslims since the Paris attacks. Four of these cases were reported Monday — the two in South Florida, plus a Koran burning in Tampa and a woman who had her head scarf pulled off — also in Tampa.
Prior to the Paris attacks, eight vandal cases were reported to CAIR’s Florida chapter, Clevenger said. Of those, three stemmed from a string of vandalism acts at the Islamic School of South Florida in Kendall.
“Political rhetoric, like Trump’s, is inviting this hate speech,” said Wilfredo Ruiz, an attorney with the Florida chapter of CAIR. “It’s inviting these crimes.”
Both incidents — at the Cooper City school and Miami Gardens mosque — were reported to law enforcement agencies.
On Monday afternoon, Shabbir Motorwala of the Coalition of South Florida Muslim Organizations, said Miami U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer called to tell him his office takes such incidents seriously.
“I’m glad our law enforcement is on top of these things,’’ Motorwala said. “We cannot let fear mongers run our lives, that’s what ISIS is trying to do.”