A series of attacks targeting Muslim and Jewish places of worship in Portland has united locals, who came to support one another against hate.
“This kind of incident is a constant reminder that we have to be ever vigilant in protecting our communities,” Zakir Khan, board chair with the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Oregon, told The New Arab.
“It really shows we need to invest in diversity, equity and inclusion. Instead of learning how to hate, people can learn how to love.”
Khan was referring to a hate attack launched by Michael Bivins who tried to set the fire to Portland’s Muslim Community Center on May 3.
Fortunately, the outside walls were painted with fire-resistant material and no damage occurred to the mosque.
Two synagogues in the same area were vandalized in late April and early May.
After the attack, community came together to support one another and also try to understand why this person, a former journalist who had previously reported on extremism, had committed such a crime.
“This is an interesting situation in that a lot of people knew him but didn’t know he’d go on to commit these crimes,” Khan added.
“More than a year ago, he started being influenced by far-right propaganda. It’s a tale of self-radicalization,” Khan said, which he believes culminated in the recent crimes.
A report published by CAIR titled “Targeted: 2018 Civil Rights Report” recorded 144 anti-mosque incidents in 2017, of which 57 were labeled hate crimes.
Many local communities have offered support to the Muslim community in many cases.
In 2021, members of the local community in Suffolk county in Brentwood, New York, came together in a show of support to the local mosque which was vandalized last month.
In September 2019, the vandalism of the new welcome sign at the Islamic Centre of Grand Junction, Colorado, prompted community to show support and start crowdfunding to repair the damaged sign.