When the Masjid Al-Kareem mosque in Providence, Rhode Island, received a threatening letter in November calling Muslims a "vile and filthy people," its members were frightened enough they asked for and got extra police protection.
The 42-year-old mosque was far from alone. The letter it received was one of 2,213 anti-Muslim bias incidents in the United States last year, according to a report released Tuesday by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (Cair).
The report found a 57% increase in the number of incidents in 2016, up from 1,409 in 2015. Incidents increased 5% from 2014 to 2015.
While the group had been seeing a rise in anti-Muslim incidents prior to Donald Trump's stunning rise in last year's presidential primaries and November election victory, it said the acceleration in bias incidents was due in part to Trump's focus on militant Islamist groups and anti-immigrant rhetoric.[caption id="attachment_62483" align="aligncenter" width="800"] A religious message is written above a washing station at the Islamic Center of Rhode Island, Masjid Al-Kareem Mosque in Providence, Rhode Island, US, May 4, 2017 REUTERS[/caption]
Rhode Island's oldest mosque was only threatened, while others in Florida and Texas were set ablaze in cases ruled arson. But the knowledge of how common threats had become was far from comforting for Faissal Elansari, a member of the mosque's board.
"Hearing about it is not the same thing as when you receive it, it was definitely a weird feeling," Elansari said.
Cair officials decided in September to start what they intend to be quarterly reports after noticing a pickup in complaints beginning in 2014, following the rise of Islamic State killings in the Middle East and attacks inspired by the group in Europe and the United States.
The accounting includes a wide variety of bias incidents, from assaults and street harassment, to employment discrimination, to what the group considers unwarranted contact by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
It also shows a rise in anti-Muslim hate crimes to 260 in 2016, up 44% from 180 a year earlier. That includes all crimes recorded where Cair saw evidence of anti-Muslim bias, not just those where hate crime charges were brought, Saylor said.
Muslims are not alone in experiencing an uptick in bias. A report released last month by the Anti-Defamation League recorded a 34% rise in anti-Semitic acts in 2016.