Opinion

Editorial: Hate crimes against Muslims play into ISIS’ hands

A mosque fire in Palm Springs
Police tape marks off the burned front lobby of the Islamic Center of Palm Springs in Coachella on Dec. 12.
(David Martin / Associated Press)

The massacre in San Bernardino provoked not just alarm but also anger that simmers to this day. Fourteen innocent people were killed, and many more badly hurt, in an act of terrorism by a young Muslim couple who authorities say had become radicalized.

Nevertheless, it’s distressing that some have channeled their outrage into acts intended to terrorize more innocents. Since the Dec. 2 shooting at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, there have been dozens of reports of anti-Muslim incidents across the country. The most serious so far occurred Friday when a mosque was torched in Coachella, 75 miles from San Bernardino. A young man has been arrested on suspicion of arson and a hate crime.

Many of the reported incidents involved vandalism, including windows smashed at the Islamic Center of Palm Beach, a pig’s head left at the front door of a mosque in Philadelphia, and graffiti about Jesus spray-painted on two mosques in Hawthorne over the weekend. There have also been a number of reports of harassment and bigotry, such as the man arrested in Chino Hills last week for allegedly threatening a Muslim woman with a knife.

Islamic State has exported its terror for strategic reasons, counting on outraged Westerners to retaliate so harshly against Muslims that more of them become extremists. So the group must be thrilled to see Americans now tearing at the very fabric of their constitutional democracy. Every time a mosque is defaced or someone threatens a random Muslim, it weakens our liberty and strengthens the terrorists’ cause.

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