Shots Fired at Illinois Mosque
Morton Grove Muslim Community disturbed by act of violence
(CHICAGO, IL, 8/11/12) — The Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago) said today that two air rifle shots were fired last night at the outer wall of the Muslim Education Center (MEC) mosque in Morton Grove, Ill.
The shots were heard by worshipers who were outside the mosque and were powerful enough to damage the building’s brick wall.
A neighbor, who has a history of opposition to the mosque, allegedly fired the shots. Morton Grove police, the FBI and the U.S. attorney’s office are all investigating the incident.
“This is obviously an alarming situation that all parties are taking very seriously. The weapon allegedly used in this incident is powerful enough to kill, and the projectiles reportedly came within inches of the head of the security guard on duty,” said CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab.
“We are gravely concerned that we are seeing the rising level of Islamophobic rhetoric in our society translate into violent behavior,” Rehab said.
Just this week alone, a Missouri mosque previously targeted by an arsonist burned to the ground. In California, pig legs were left at a southern California mosque and four teens face hate crime charges for harassing worshipers at a northern California mosque – and of course, the shooting rampage at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin that left several killed and injured and shocked the nation.
Yesterday, interfaith leaders spoke out against scaremongering comments made by Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh in which he said that Islamic radicals were living in the US, including Chicago’s suburbs, killing Americans every week. The speakers, who included Muslims, Jews and Christians held a press conference Friday in downtown Chicago to warn against the effects of such irresponsible and generalist remarks that stoke fear against an entire community, especially coming as they did following incidents such as the deadly shooting spree in Wisconsin.
The Muslim Community Center (MCC), of which the MEC is a suburban branch, is the oldest Muslim center in Illinois. The MCC was among those who were consulted by the Obama Admininstration consulted before his first speech to the Muslim world in Cairo, 2008.
“This last week of Ramadan is the holiest week of the year for Muslims, and the shots were fired at 8:30, a little after sunset, the busiest time of the day when Muslims come to the mosque to break their long day fast and pray together,” said MEC President Dr. Mohammad Aleemuddin.
“This is a school and a house of worship. It’s a place for our families to pray and our kids to learn about their world. And we are being shot at. Community members are terrified, especially children,” said Aleemuddin.
Rehab toured the mosque site today with Muslim community leaders, the local police commander and the assistant state attorney. He said mosque leaders and community members are cooperating with the investigation and that a variety of charges are being considered.
“We have full trust in the professionals handling this investigation. They are doing everything in their power to keep communities safe and ensure that justice is served,” said Rehab.
CAIR-Chicago is a chapter of America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to defend civil rights, fight bigotry, and promote tolerance.
CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab, firstname.lastname@example.org, 312.212.1520
CAIR-Chicago Communications Coordinator, Aymen Abdel Halim, email@example.com, 312.212.1520