Media focuses on Mosque firebombed in Queens, ignores firebombing against Hindus, Christians

by Matt Lacy –

A series of firebombing in Queens, New York that targeted a Hindu place of worship, an African-American Christian couple’s home and a Mosque is being portrayed by the mainstream media and a Muslim advocacy group as a hate crime solely directed against Muslims.

A series of firebombs involving Molotov cocktails was directed against two homes, including one where a group of Hindus was meeting to worship, another home where an African-American Christian couple lived, a convenience store and a local mosque.

The Al-Khoei Islamic Foundation houses one of the most prominent Shiite mosques in New York. According to its website it lists branches in several cities including London, Paris, Montreal and Islamabad, Pakistan. The firebomb, made with a Starbucks bottle was thrown at the door of the center. While the door was blackened, the building did not catch fire.

Police are investigating the crime as an anti-Muslim hate crime. A spokesman for the New York Police Department told the Gazette anytime an attack is made on a Mosque or a synagogue, it is automatically investigated as a bias or hate crime.

The meeting at the Hindu home consisted of two firebombs that did not catch fire, while the home of Monty and Sonya Burnett, who are African-American and Christian, was heavily damaged.

The Burnett’s home was the most heavily damaged of all of the structures firebombed during the four attacks. It took more than 60 firefighters to get the fire under control.

While the bombings were directed at Hindus and Christians as well as Muslims, one would not know that from reading much of the mainstream press coverage of the event.

The New York Times said in the lead paragraph that “police were investigating (the firebombings) as a possible bias crime against Muslims.” Nowhere in the story does it mention the attack on the Hindu worshippers or the Christian family, simply referring to them as houses that were bombed.

The New York Daily News followed a similar lead. While the article did mention the other attacks were on Christians and Hindus, the headline read “Four firebombs, including one tossed at Queens Mosque, eyed as hate crimes.”  

Other headlines by various papers included “Islamic structure firebombed in Queens, three other structures attacked”, “4 Firebombs hit Muslim targets in NYC” and “Firebomb attacks in Queens hit Mosque in possible hate crime.”

On Monday morning, the Council on American Islamic Relations sent out an e-mail release suggesting the attack was directed solely against Muslims. The e-mail said in the subject line “CAIR condemns firebombing of NY Mosque.”

The e-mail went on to say that Ibrahim Hooper, National Director for CAIR said the organization is calling on local police to boost patrols near mosques and advised members of the Muslim community to review security procedures.

Nowhere in the message from CAIR is there any mention made of or a condemnation of the attacks against Christians and Hindus during the same wave of attacks.

Instead, Hooper focused exclusively on the Muslim component saying “a number of recent reports have documented the growth and promotion of Islamophobia.”

Robert Spencer, founder of Jihad Watch said the media spin shows the favoritism Muslim groups are given to the exclusion of other groups and that CAIR is simply trying to use this attack to portray Muslims as the exclusive victims in this case.

“Implying the attacks were directed solely at Muslims is obviously false and self-serving. It seems as if whoever did this is opposed to foreigners or religion in general and to say this is exclusively a Muslim hate crime is a politically motivated claim.”

Spencer went on to say that CAIR’s ignoring the firebombing of the black Christian family and the Hindus shows the agency’s isn’t really interested in hate crimes against other groups but simply want to use the attacks to their advantage.

“CAIR did not mention anything about the Hindus or Christians when they issued their release. This just shows how self-serving their claims of victimhood really are,” Spencer said. “They called for increased police patrols against mosques, but they didn’t say anything about calling for protection for Hindu or Christian places of worship.”


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  • SpecialKinNJ says:

    This report is the first this reader has seen suggesting an Equal Opportunity Crime Spree. Perhaps being somewhat removed from the scene of a crime enables one to see it with greater clarity.

    Whatever the reason for enlightenment, it is welcome, indeed. Thanks Mr. Lacy from Greeley.
    (Of course we’ve learned over the years not to believe everything we happen to read)

  • D-R says:

    This is strange. I hope they catch whoever did this.

  • Mr Adam says:

    Interfaith relations are strong in NYC though they need to be even stronger. That is why I am responding to this blog. Many Muslim Americans also noticed how much more attention the media gave to our “new role” as victim not perpetrator; one way or another media paradigms seem to shape coverage– perhaps also influenced by al Khoei Center’s strong reputation even among right leaning pundits.

    Though CAIR officials have at least privately noted to me that not only Muslims are being attacked, I would have liked to see that as their basic messaging. But to consider the context, it is true that there are many attacks against Muslims across the nation– an increasing and worrying trend, and most likely made worse by hysterical, tabloid media and reactionary policies.

    There are several other Muslim statements that more explicitly acknowledge the plight of the Hindu and Christian victims. And, as one of those involved in NYC disaster response, I know that the Al Khoei Center reached out to the Hindus (who came to the press conference, but very late) and the family (who were initially hard to locate and are protected by privacy laws)

    Though the perpetrator seems motivated both by hate and by personal grudges, this is a reminder that all of us are vulnerable. Many quite small houses of worship have very limited security, unlike al Khoei. There are also religious based schools.

    Interfaith groups are currently working to cooperate and reach out to all those affected. With government aid reduced, it is likely that our communities will remain at risk.

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