SACRAMENTO—An area mosque has been drawn into the debate over a religious center near ground zero in New York City. A plastic pig was put in that mosque's mailbox, toxic messages were scribbled across it.
Islamic leadership in our area isn't saying exactly where that mosque is, for fear that they could be targeted further.
"The atmosphere of Islam-a-phobia right now I would say is worse than after 9-11," said Basim Elkarra, head of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in the Sacramento Valley. "We have this orchestrated campaign against the community."
Elkarra is calling for the pig incident to be investigated as a hate crime. It's similar, he says, to the vandalism of a Mosque in Madera, California earlier this week. Still, many Muslims in his community were against going to police and the public about the pig.
"Especially some of the immigrants- they're much more concerned about what's happening. And they don't want to make it public," Elkarra said.
But he says that the community needs to be open about message of hate like the ones scrawled across the pig. He says that's best way to be certain that bigotry doesn't dominate the discussion about the project in New York.
"There are people that are sincere about not wanting the Mosque to be built there," said Elkarra. "Unfortunately, many of the groups who are working on this issue are Islam-a-phobic and are just using it. Also unfortunately there are elected officials that are using the issue to get votes."