The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that two men are being sought in connection with an arson at a Minneapolis mosque -- a crime that has attracted the attention of the FBI as a potential bias crime. Liberal City Council Member Gary Schiff arrived at the scene to pronounce: "There's no doubt this was clearly a hate crime. It was a very deliberate offense." Alan Silver, president of the Jewish Community Relations Council in Minneapolis, was also on hand to denounce the fire as "an attack on all of us."
One of the men captured on surveillance cameras was white, sporting a full beard. The other was black, with a beard closely cropped around the jaw line. There are signs that gasoline was used to set the fire. On this evidence, the FBI, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and a number of community leaders in Minneapolis are certain a hate crime has been committed. Well, it's possible, of course, but how many multi-racial anti-Muslim hate groups exist in the United States? Twenty to one they'll discover it was just a plain old arson.
Meanwhile, in San Francisco, an immigrant from Afghanistan went on a rampage with his SUV, killing one man and wounding 18 others in hit-and-run attacks. Witnesses said he drove up onto curbs deliberately aiming at pedestrians. "Driver Called Unstable," read the headline in the Washington Times. Yes, but according to the San Jose Mercury News, he was also a product of a certain culture. Omeed Popal was 29 years old, but apparently totally sheltered and controlled by his parents, who, according to the paper, "believed they needed to protect him from America's 'evil society.'" He had recently traveled to Afghanistan to be married to a woman his family picked out for him.
Perhaps there was nothing more to the story than mental instability and cultural rigidity bordering on the pathological. But the rampage ended at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, where two of the victims were struck. It also happens to echo a hit-and-run attack in North Carolina last spring. Iranian born Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar used a rented Jeep to plow into a crowd at the University of North Carolina. As Investor's Business Daily reported, he told police that he ran down nine people with his SUV to "punish the government of the United States for its actions around the world." He further explained to the judge that he was "thankful for the opportunity to spread the will of Allah." No one has yet accused him of a hate crime, but news reports in that case as well stressed his mental instability. Students at UNC were deeply divided about whether the attack should be called terrorism.
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