Several Mosques Receive Same Threatening Letter, CAIR Calls for Federal Probe

By Sameer Rao Nov 30, 2016

A mosque in Providence, Rhode Island, is the latest Muslim institution to receive a threatening, Islamophobic letter that invokes President-elect Donald Trump‘s name. The letters, each of which uses the same text, compelled the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) to call for a federal investigation. 

The letter was previously sent to Muslim faith centers in Savannah, Georgia; Indianapolis, Indiana; Cleveland, Ohio; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Miami Gardens, Florida; and San Jose, Fresno, Pomona, Granada Hills, Signal Hill and Los Angeles, California, over the past week.

Each version of the letter contains the same vitriolic text that condemns Muslims and promises ethnic cleansing via Trump’s presidency. "There’s a new sheriff in town—President Donald Trump," reads the letter. "He’s going to cleanse America and make it shine again. And, he’s going to start with you Muslims. He’s going to do to you Muslims what Hitler did to the Jews."

The letter was signed by "Americans for a Better Way," and The Washington Post reports that the Fresno and Savannah versions were postmarked from Santa Clarita in Los Angeles County.

CAIR’s Los Angeles, Bay Area and Massachusetts chapters requested increased police presence at the mosques that received the letter. CAIR national executive director Nihad Awad also sent a letter to FBI director James Comey requesting a federal investigation into the matter. From Awad’s message: "As you know, it is a federal crime to threaten or intimidate people because of their religion in order to interfere with their exercise of federally-guaranteed rights."

Several law enforcement agencies are investigating the letter. LAPD Deputy Chief Michael Downing told The Huffington Post yesterday (November 29) that the department has "some very good leads" on the letter’s source. FBI officials in Los Angeles said the letter itself wasn’t a hate crime at a press conference Monday (November 28), while a San Francisco counterpart told that the letter should be investigated by the U.S. Postal Service before the FBI opens a probe.

These messages are among the latest examples of discriminatory threats and violence that reference Trump’s name and electoral rhetoric, including his proposal to register and track Muslims. Both the FBI and Southern Poverty Law Center have reported a sharp increase in hate crimes immediately following the election. 

(H/t The Providence JournalThe San Francisco Chronicle, The Indianapolis Star, Los Angeles Times)