BY SAM RAPPAPORT
The city Police Department’s Hate Crime Task Force is investigating a recent incident at a mosque construction site in Queens Village.
According to police, graffiti that included the words “Mosque,” “911” and “Terr” were found on multiple locations at a construction site at 80-35 237th St. Police opened an investigation into the incident after being notified of the graffiti on Friday evening.
The construction site is owned by the Islamic Foundation of New York, which continues to raise money for the completion of a mosque at the location. The foundation is based in Bellerose Manor.
Albert Fox Cahn, the legal director for New York’s branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said that the Queens Village incident fits in with a larger pattern of anti-Muslim actions across the nation.
“In the last two years, we’ve seen a tenfold increase in anti-Muslim actions, which include hate crimes, discrimination and harassment,” Cahn said.
In particular, Cahn said, there has been a notable increase in anti-mosque vandalism as well as heightened opposition to the construction of new mosques.
Cahn pointed to President Donald Trump to explain the trend.
“We can’t ignore the fact that we have a president who is normalizing anti-Muslim rhetoric,” Cahn said.
Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR’s national communications director, also singled out Trump as emboldening a new generation of white supremacists.
“Previously, bigotry and hate were toward the fringe of society, but Trump and his rhetoric and his policies have mainstreamed white supremacy,” Hooper said.
Cahn said that while these attacks often showcase the worst of humanity, the aftermath of such incidents illuminates the strength of cross-cultural solidarity.
“What we see is interfaith allies reaching out to support mosques,” Cahn said. “I think we have most often seen solidarity in the face of this sort of hate.”