According to the statistics released by FBI last year, the number of hate crimes against religions is on the rise, and after the infamous fire incident in Texas where a mosque was burned down by an Islamophobe earlier this year, a new incident of anti-Islamic hatred has come forward.
A man named Michael Wolfe, who vandalized a mosque in Florida, was found guilty of criminal mischief and received a 15-year prison sentence for committing a heinous offence that infuriated many Muslims around the country.
The Rise of Islamophobia in the U.S.
Islamophobia is on the rise as more and more hate crime incidents against Muslims are being reported around the world. In U.S. alone, the rate of anti-Islamic hate crimes in up by 20% in comparison with last year. Muslim communities in the U.S. are becoming increasingly uneasy in the midst of Trump’s racist policies which may have contributed to the increasing Islamophobic sentiments in America.
This year has seen several hate crime incidents involving religious institutions where mosques have been destroyed and people killed in mass shooting incidents in churches. Mark Potok, a law researcher in New York, says that politicians are exploiting the threat from radical jihadists to destroy the image of peaceful Muslims across the country and expose them to the threat of hate crimes.
The Man Who Vandalized the Mosque in Florida
In January 2016, a man from Titusville named Michael Wolfe broke into a mosque during the night and left a piece of bacon inside to enrage the Muslim community in the area. The state attorney’s office announced recently that Wolfe will be facing 15 years of prison time after admitting to his crimes.
After the horrific incident at the mosque, Masjid Al-Munin, the frightened Muslim community of Titusville, reported that they would not feel safe until the man behind the incident got the punishment he deserved. After months of investigation and court trials, the prosecutors had a detailed discussion with the police in Titusville as well as Islamic Society of Central Florida after which the decision was made.
In the statement released by the State Attorney’s Office, it was revealed that Wolfe had entered a plea bargain in which he plead guilty for destroying the mosque with a hateful intention against a religious community.
A Long Criminal History
According to the police report, Wolfe entered the mosque with a machete, broke the lights, windows and destroyed everything else in his path. Bacon was used in this hate crime since pig meat is strictly prohibited in Islam. Investigation revealed that Wolfe was a habitual offender who had been involved in several other crimes apart from the mosque vandalization incident.
He had been convicted in theft and burglary incidents back in 1998 and 2004 for which he had been sentenced to prison for more than two years. In 2011, he was arrested for burglary yet again and had to spend 64 days in jail.
Records also show that Wolfe had been charged with possession of drugs, several traffic violations and three DUIs in the past. After his 15-year sentence is over, Wolfe must stay away from the mosque as per his probation condition.
Who is to Blame for Increasing Hate Crime Incidents in the U.S.?
The reasons behind Wolfe’s actions have not been revealed in the statement but it has been speculated that the incident may have had a link with the increasing number of similar hate crimes occurring in mosques around the country.
After the punishment against Wolfe was announced last Tuesday, the leader of the Islamic Society of Central Florida, Imam Muhammad Musri, praised the efforts of State Attorney’s Office in sending a clear message to anyone who may attempt to target the Muslims or their mosques in the future.
Mustri said that the religious and educational institutions are at threat from the hate crimes that have been sweeping the nation and it is only the innocent who are suffering.
He added that government needs to strict laws and punishments for criminals who have been trying to create a rift between different religious communities in the country, especially after the heartbreaking shooting incident in the Texas church last month which left 26 people dead. “The hate must stop,” he said.