Suspicious Letter Prompts Evacuation of Islamic Center

Police cleared out an Islamic civil rights center Thursday in Santa Clara after a staffer opened a letter dusted with a suspicious white powder.

Santa Clara police dispatched haz-mat crews to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) office just off of San Tomas Expressway, where upward of a dozen people were evacuated and evaluated by medics. Lt. Kurt Clarke said he has no updates on the incident today, but that his investigators have alerted the FBI.

A similar scene unfolded at CAIR’s Washington D.C. headquarters, where three employees came in contact with a similar letter. Field tests indicated that the substance was harmless, but it came with a threatening message.

According to CAIR staff attorney Maha Sayed, the note read: “Die a painful death, Muslims.”

“We receive hate messages daily because of our advocacy on behalf of the American Muslim community,” Sayed said in a media release. “It’s frightening to experience the hate manifest itself to such a real level. This will not deter us from continuing to protect the civil rights and liberties of all Americans.”

The CAIR office in San Diego did not receive such a letter, but that could be because the SoCal branch moved after a series of threats earlier this year.

CAIR officials said they have seen a surge in attacks and threats against mosques, Islamic centers and their own offices since January. Just this afternoon, officials said someone fire-bombed a mosque in Coachella.

The organization attributes the violence to backlash against Muslims following the Charlie Hebdo terrorist bombing in Paris and more recently because of the November attacks that killed another 130 people. Closer to home, two Muslims shot and killed 14 people in San Bernardino County, which the FBI is investigating as an act of terrorism.

Rhetoric spouted by GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump has exacerbated anti-Muslim sentiment, leading to threats like those targeting CAIR this week, said Hanif Mohebi, executive director of the San Diego office. Several local mosques and Islamic centers told San Jose Inside that they have heightened security in recent weeks.

Another factor to the rise in anti-Muslim hostility, according to CAIR, is the misinformation spread by lawmakers about the federal government’s ability to screen Syrian refugees.

Thursday’s incident took place days after Trump suggested banning Muslims from entering the United States. His statements sparked outrage throughout the nation, leading to protests and counter-protests.

CAIR plans to release a comprehensive report about the anti-Islamic backlash at a later date. Meanwhile, the nonprofit has compiled a partial list of incidents online.

The Bay Area is home to upward of 250,000 Muslims—one of the highest concentrations in the nation. About 27 percent of them live in Silicon Valley. A 2013 report by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding found that 23 percent of them reported being victim of a hate crime because of their religion, while 40 percent said they had experienced discrimination.

Mohebi said attacks against a specific religious community should be treated as hate crimes, at least, or acts of domestic terrorism.

“You go into work every day knowing that your life is in danger,” Mohebi told San Jose Inside. “You’re essentially a walking, talking dead person. As one of the threats said, it’s a matter of when, not if. So that’s the atmosphere that we live in.”

Jennifer Wadsworth is a staff writer for San Jose Inside and Metro Newspaper. Email tips to [email protected] or follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.

23 Comments

  1. Oh, come on, Jenn.

    What biased, shallow crap. You DON’T have to be a mouthpiece for CAIR.

    Trump’s proposal is entirely lawful, with solid precedents in American history:

    http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/12/09/flashback-president-jimmy-carter-banned-iranians-u-s/

    The notion that excluding foreign Muslims violates their FIrst Amendment rights to “free exercise of religion” is doubly looney.

    1.) Muslims in foreign countries are not subject to the U.S. Constitution..

    2.) Islam is NOT a religion. It’s a political ideology formulated by a seventh century warlord. It’s communism with Mohammad instead of Marx.

    George Bush called Islam ‘the religion of peace”.

    George Bush.

    Have you ever credited George Bush with being right about anything?

  2. Hi SJOUTSIDETHEBUBBLE,
    I’m being totally serious about this question. Nothing snide, I promise.

    Are foreigners that buy land here, protected by the U.S. Constitution’s private property laws? You mention above that muslims in foreign countries are not subject to the U.S. Constitution. I am trying to find out if foreigners that buy land here, but don’t live here, have the same property rights as U.S. citizens that own land here. Do you know?

    When I research it, I cannot seem to get a clear answer. I realize this is a different subject, but it is somewhat related and your comment about Muslims in foreign countries not being subject to the U.S. Constitution made me wonder if there are any world citizens, for any reason, that are protected by our Constitution. It would be interesting to find out. You know a lot about these things and I am hoping you can shed light on this. Thank you.

    • FW:

      I’m no loy-yah, but I would guess that when you or your “estate” are lawfully within the United States, you are blessed with the protection of U.S. laws.

      Plus, I’m sure that the interests of foreigners in the U.S. are protected by treaties as well.

      If you are a Muslim in Pakistan or Syria, you can’t claim “freedom of religion” under the Constitution gives you a right to enter of immigrate to the U.S. The Obam-u-nists might try to claim this, but its not the case.

  3. Isn’t it interesting how CAIR gets defensive and “whiney” about how Muslims are such victims. Well, how does it feel Mr. and Mrs. Muslim? You have institutionalized anti-Israel, anti-Semitism and anti-Christianity throughout the world. And most continue to do so. Not once amidst the cries of “we’re loyal to America”, have I heard anyone of this faith mention the abhorrence of Jew and Christian hatred, and Israel bashing. I do not condone or participate in this anti-Muslim behavior. It’s not morally right. But just once, I’d like to hear something from CAIR or a local mosque clarify their positions on the acceptance of other religions, the Jewish State and Western Civilization. Now that the tables have turned against Muslims too it would alleviate a lot of tension and suspicions.

  4. I’m really sorry someone pranked the office of CAIR, the political front group of the “Muslim Brotherhood” as I recall and a lot of other place around the country as well. Not very Christian like. I’d warn anyone out there not to do that as it ties up valuable emergency resource’s that might be needed in the event of a real terrorist attack.

    It seems people might be reacting to things going on around the world that put CAIR’s clients in a negative light.

    Just last month the “Religion of Peace” converted 1455 living people into dead bodies, and wounded 1706 living people, in 169 prayer session’s in 30 country’s, on this planet.
    This month as of Dec. 4th they converted another 445 more and wounded another 218, I suppose the wounds occurred during the rush up the steps to conversion centers.

    I all fairness I don’t think “The Donald Trump” is the cause of all this negativity and “Micro Aggregation” but the reaction to all those conversations as its cutting into his costumer base, not to mention their necks!

    Perhaps CAIR could round out their client list and image with the nice “Mexican Drug Cartels” and the “Russian Mafia” that doesn’t exist!

  5. The FBI has tabulated 5 times as many reports of anti-Semitic hate incidents versus anti Muslim hate incidents.

  6. Jewish people and temples have been subject to these crimes for years. Where was all the media attention and sympathizers then? Where was CAIR, if not promoting this violence?

  7. By law Islam is the State government of Iran, of Saudi Arabia, and of various other nations. Their religion and their government is one and the same; there is no distinction between them. And CAIR is a front for Islam. CAIR is funded by Islamic governments. We can’t draw a distinction between their “religion”, and being a “citizen” of those countries. They are exactly the same thing. (See more about CAIR here: http://tiny.cc/gsdb7x )

    As for the letter, who knows if it’s legit or not? Any national issue gets responses of one kind or another, and if anything, Islamists are the world’s premier crybabies. Their feelings get hurt if you even look at them the wrong way. But they’re always the first to insist that murdering thousands of Americans is the work of “a few”. So maybe the letter is real, or maybe it’s propaganda. But so what? How does that compare with the evil those people actually commit, 24/7/365? There is no equivalence at all.

    Does anyone still not know that Islam has declared war on America? They are crystal clear about it themselves: they consider us their enemy; the “Great Satan”, and their intention is to kill as many people as possible. It doesn’t matter if they murder civilians including women and children, and using children with bombs attached is routine. That’s what we’re dealing with. Is anyone still unaware of the situation?

    So what should we do? Turn the other cheek? Or apologize? For what??

    When a specific group like that attacks our country and murders as many people as they can, there is only one credible response: fight back, until they cry “Uncle!”

    Anything less will just encourage more murder and mayhem.

    • > And CAIR is a front for Islam. CAIR is funded by Islamic governments.

      I think there is a legal requirement for “agents of foreign governments” to be registered with the U.S. government.

      I wonder if CAIR is registered.

      It is very little known, but former Obama administration bigwig and Democrat Party insider Rahm Emmanuel served in the Israeli Army. Presumably, he was paid which means he took money from a foreign government and should have been registered as an “agent of a foreign government”.

  8. Today headline should read “Suspicious Threat Evacuates the LA School System”.
    Is that Islama phobic?

  9. CAIR is a peaceful organization devoted to political advocacy and resisting bigotry against Muslims in America. For this reason it has been targeted for slander and worse. The bigoted comments on this board are disgusting.