Oregon mosque burned in arson

In my mind, Oregon is known for two things: hipster Mecca (formerly known as Portland), and being the place you get to only after your entire family dies of dysentery. Well, I guess now it’s known for three things:

A fire at an Islamic centre in the western US state of Oregon was started intentionally, US police say. They say the blaze gutted one room of the Salman Alfarisi Islamic Center in Corvallis. No-one was injured. The centre had been attended by Somali-born teenager Mohamed Osman Mohamud, 19, who was held on Friday for plotting to detonate a bomb at a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony in nearby Portland.

I’d like to be able to pretend that I can understand the desire for retribution after someone tries to kill you, but I don’t. Partially because nobody has ever tried to kill me, but also partially because I’m not a fucking lunatic. If the KKK had a chapter headquarters in my neighbourhood, or the Hell’s Angels had a club down the street, while I might feel threatened, there’s no circumstance under which I would burn the place to the ground.

Ah, but of course this is a religious thing, so all bets are off. The perverse reality of such an attack is that it will further disenfranchise and polarize the Muslim community in Oregon (all 9 members) and make them even less likely to see themselves as part of the community.

I’m not saying that people should just roll over and give up when they’ve been attacked, but unless your plan is to kill everyone who disagrees with you, your options for reducing the risk of being attacked are somewhat limited. Burning down a community access point may not be the best choice.

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  1. says

    I dunno, man – if you already live in fear of these people, you find they’re congregating down the road and then one of them tries to blow up you and your friends at a Christmas festival… I can see why you’d want to retaliate.

    Of course, us not-fucking-lunatics wouldn’t ever feel the need to burn down a community centre, because we see Muslims as people rather than some faceless evil force. I’m just saying that I think this was a fear thing, not a religious thing.

  2. says

    To clarify, in case that sounded like I supported these people: only a fucking moron who lacked even the smallest quantity of introspection and critical thinking would consider something like this, let alone consider it a good idea.

    However, knowing (unwillingly) that such people do exist, I can understand why such an individual would be moved to commit this act – especially in the circumstances.

  3. says

    but unless your plan is to kill everyone who disagrees with you

    You’ve read the bible, right?

    While most religious folk don’t hold this view *explicitly*, the complete wiping out of cities (and commission of genocide) is part and parcel of the religious viewpoint.

  4. bdh says

    Crommunist’s note: I almost didn’t approve this comment because it looks like a big helpin’ of dmab-style word salad. However, my commenting policy doesn’t really allow me to filter out comments unless they’re spam, and this one doesn’t appear to be. Consider yourselves warned 😛


    sounds a lot like this:
    “Group asks FBI to probe suspected arson at Marietta mosque”

    which ended up like this:
    “Suspect in mosque arson could be in country illegally”

    LOL…just sayin…dont be too sure. oh and as for all that “backlash” — looks like everyone is busy hating on jews more than anything else:


    in fact, if you lump prot. and cath together – not unreasonable considering sunni, shiite et al are – well…pretty much the same vs islam…hmmm


    oh and more on that “firebombing” (sic) or arson as the more reasonable call it…here are some previous anti-islam reports according to the good people at CAIR (same group who are screaming for help vs. the anti-islam firebombing in Oregon):

    examples of anti-Muslim hate crime reports received by CAIR back in 2004 (only year i bothered to look at…):

    CAIR cites the July 9, 2004 case of apparent arson at a Muslim-owned grocery store in Everett, Washington. But investigators quickly determined that Mirza Akram, the store’s operator, staged the arson to avoid meeting his scheduled payments and to collect on an insurance policy. Although Akram’s antics were long ago exposed as a fraud, CAIR continues to list this case as an anti-Muslim hate crime.

    CAIR also states that “a Muslim-owned market was burned down in Texas” on August 6, 2004. But already a month later, the owner was arrested for having set fire to his own business. Why does CAIR include this incident in its report?

    CAIR notes that “investigators in Massachusetts are still investigating a potential hate-motivated arson against the Al-Baqi Islamic Center in Springfield.” However the case was long ago ruled a simple robbery, news that even CAIR’s own website has posted. The Associated Press reported on January 21, 2005, that prosecutors determined the fire was set by teen-age boys “who broke into the Al-Baqi mosque to steal money and candy, then set the fire to cover their tracks.” The boys, they clarified, “weren’t motivated by hatred toward Muslims.”

    though perhaps too often quoted (from what i have read in the apst 30 min.) this does sum it up well:
    Steven Emerson noted in congressional testimony that “a large proportion of the complaints have been found to be fabricated, manufactured, distorted or outside standard definitions of hate crimes.”

  5. bdh says

    sorry for the loose format..did it on the fly…

    ps-im not american and always find it interesting how people are so quick to determine “facts”…i have no horse in this race- just stumbed on this looking for ducks info b/c i have a friend who went to college in org. -then my ocd got the better of me and by the time i was done all this had happened

    peace out

  6. says

    I can understand what motivated the attacks, but in no way does that make it any less of a religious thing. The xenophobia about Muslims has been whipped up, which is causing a backlash as Muslim people feel excluded from being “real Americans” in a way that didn’t exist 11 years ago. In the same token I understand why some kid would feel that the US is hostile to Muslims, and so commits an act of war based on religious grounds. Neither of those understandings makes me think that the crime is any more excusable, perhaps just more inevitable.

  7. says

    I don’t see it that way, Brian. There are a number of people who would be described (by themselves and by others) as ‘religious’, who have no desire to kill anyone or see their religion reign supreme. While there are undoubtedly people who want to see the Rapture and are trying to spark holy wars to usher in the end times, there are countless others who simply wish to see people free to practice their own faith. While I share your hostility toward religion, I’m afraid I can’t join you in this particular point.

  8. says

    It’s an interesting point, bdh. It’s notoriously difficult to parse which kinds of reported hate crimes are actually motivated by hate, and which ones are normal crimes committed against people who are just coincidentally a member of a particular group. Surely it is better to overestimate and get a few wrong than it is to underestimate and let hate crimes go unnoticed. It’s the same principle that fuels the “innocent until proven guilty” position of the justice system, albeit in reverse.

  9. says

    A desire to kill people or a desire to see their religion reign supreme would be explicit expressions of the stuff in the bible.

    I’m talking about *implicit* beliefs:

    When you say that “the bible is the word of god”, “everything in the bible is true” and “everything that god did is just”, then you implicitly saying that “the genocide that god committed is ok”, which further implies “there are sometimes good reasons for genocide, and one of those reasons is ‘people having lots of sex'”.

    I agree that when pushed, many decent folk who are also Christians will explicitly reject the general notion that “genocide is ok”, but their acceptance of the bible implicitly accepts that phrase.

    You’re familiar with the ‘trolley puzzles’? Run this past a person with strongly held religious beliefs:

    Situation A) you have it in your power to wipe out all the individuals who believe in Islam, would you do so?

    Situation B) All of the individuals who believe in Islam are about to be magically wiped out, but you can stop it merely by pressing the button in front of you: do you press it?

    I’d bet dollars to doughnuts that you would get a *lot* of ‘A) No, B) No’ answers, in a higher proportion of vocal Christians than vocal non-religious.

    On a definitely related note: any idea how one applies for grants for studies? Especially studies with crossovers between psych and philosophy?

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