Washington, D.C., police said Monday they were investigating a disturbing package sent to the office of the nation’s largest Muslim civil liberties group that included a soiled page ripped from the Quran.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations said a page from an English translation of the Quran was smeared with a “foreign substance” that appears to be feces. Also enclosed was a racist letter portraying former President Barack Obama as a monkey.
Officer Sean Hickman, spokesman for Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department, said police were investigating.
CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper told The Huffington Post the fake return address was for Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), though it didn’t include his name.
“It’s often what these people do,” Hooper said of those who send hate mail to the group. “They put the return address of someone who is sympathetic to Muslims,” like Conyers.
In 2005, Conyers introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives “condemning bigotry and religious intolerance.” It added: “The Quran, the holy book of Islam, as any other holy book of any religion, should be treated with dignity and respect.”
Hooper said CAIR receives hate messages every day. The organization decided to contact police about this one because of the foreign substance on the ripped Quran page.
CAIR executive director Nihad Awad said in a statement on Monday that the package is “just a sample of the hate targeting American Muslims and other minority groups in the wake of the presidential election.”
“These bigoted acts will never stop us from defending the civil rights and religious freedom of all Americans,” Awad said.
Zainab Chaudry, a national spokeswoman for CAIR and manager of the group’s Maryland chapter, wrote in a Facebook post that “this pathetic stunt pulled by coward(s) hiding behind fake names and addresses is designed to shock and intimidate Muslim activists who are on the front lines fighting islamophobia.”
“It belies a deep-rooted hatred of Islam and Muslims,” Chaudry added.
Near-daily reports of acts of anti-Muslim hate include a slew of incidents in which copies of the Islamic holy book have been desecrated.
Last month, a Muslim family in Virginia returned to their home to find their copy of the Quran destroyed and “FUCK MUSLIMS” written on a wall. Someone dumped two copies of the Quran into a campus toilet at the University of Texas at Dallas. A man broke into an Arizona mosque and tore up more than 100 copies of the Quran. And in New Mexico, a couple was accused of urinating on a Quran inside a Santa Fe library.
“The more they defile the written message of the Quran, let’s protect and preserve it in our hearts and minds,” Chaudry wrote in her Facebook post. “The more they speak ill of it, let’s keep our tongues moist with the recitation of its verses.
“Anyone who carries this much hate around in their hearts is in desperate need of prayers,” Chaudry continued. “At the end of the day, they can’t stand something they don’t even understand.”
Elsewhere in the country in recent months, Muslim Americans have been targeted with violence, and their places of worship vandalized or destroyed.
In Minnesota, a man told police his hatred of Muslims drove him to stab a Somali man. In Milwaukee, a Muslim woman was brutally attacked in what the community is calling a hate crime. In Oregon, an Iranian refugee returned home to find anti-Muslim messages and death threats on his wall. Men in San Francisco and in Charlotte, North Carolina, threatened in separate incidents to shoot Muslim women. And in Florida, a man is accused of saying, “I’m going to kill all you Muslim — —[expletive], get out of my country,” then pointing a gun at his Muslim neighbors.
Mosques across the country have been targeted for vandalism or other acts of destruction 35 times this year, according to CAIR. During a three-week period, fires at three mosques were declared arson.
Hate crimes against Muslims rose 67 percent in 2015, the latest year for which the FBI has statistics. A Southern Poverty Law Center report this year said the number of anti-Muslim hate groups tripled in 2016.