Advocacy groups are calling for a hate crime investigation after an anti-Muslim sign and bloody pig-head mask were found in front of a local Islamic center and school in Texas on Saturday, ABC News affiliate KVUE reported. The sign and mask found outside of the Islamic Center of Greater Austin and Austin Peace Academy were clear in their message. “MUSLIMS: You are as unclean to God as a pig is to you. Have your idolatry washed clean by the blood of Jesus Christ! 1 Corinthians 6:9-11,” the sign read.
The incident follows a string of hate Muslim Americans have faced since the Sept. 11 attacks 20 years ago. Nationwide, reports of hate incidents have increased throughout the week against Muslim Americans and those who may look like them amid the tragedy’s anniversary. FBI data shows hate crimes against Muslims nationwide jumped from 28 reported incidents in the year 2000, to 481 in 2001. Reports of violence increased even further during Donald Trump’s term in office.
The image was shared by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) on Facebook and quickly went viral. CAIR officials noted that anti-Muslim bigots often use pigs or pork products in an attempt to offend Muslims because of the Islamic prohibition on consuming pork.
“We call on local, state and federal law enforcement authorities to investigate this heinous act of intimidation as a hate crime,” CAIR-Austin Executive Director Faizan Syed said. “Early today, the Austin Muslim community held a free COVID-19 vaccination drive and hosted a soup kitchen to mark the tragic 20th anniversary of Sept. 11. While our community united with our fellow Americans to help build a better nation, a small hate-filled minority continues to use bigotry and intimidation to attempt to divide us and dishonor the lives lost on that tragic day.”
While a task force was launched in December 2010 to discourage such crimes, they continue. ADL Austin, the Austin City Council, the Austin/Travis County Community Justice Council, and representatives from over 70 local agencies, law enforcement, civil rights groups, and other stakeholders are a part of the group.
The Austin/Travis County Hate Crimes Task Force issued the following statement from Travis County District Attorney Jose Garza regarding the incident:
“On behalf of the Austin/Travis County Hate Crimes Task Force, we want to condemn the horrible incident that took place this past weekend at the Islamic Center of Greater Austin and the Austin Peace Academy. We stand by and with our Muslim community and we applaud the work that APD is doing to investigate this incident. When a community center is the target of hate, our entire community is affected. We will continue to work tirelessly to build a more inclusive and safe Austin community.”
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first report of hate in the community. According to CAIR officials, the Islamic Center of Lake Travis, another Mosque in Austin, was burned down in 2017. The following year in 2018 the North Austin Muslim Community Center was vandalized multiple times with reported tire slashings and other damages.
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