Anti-Islam Note Leaves Des Moines Community Shaken
By Molly Longman
Des Moines: The president of the Islamic Center of Des Moines found a threatening note among its mail Sunday morning.
The handwritten note Dr Samir Shams found called Muslims "filthy" and "vile" people.
The note was signed only "Americans for a Better Way" and appeared to be written by someone who claims to support President Trump. The note made Holocaust references, saying Trump is "going to do to you Muslims what Hitler did to the Jews." It warned Muslims to "pack your bags and get out of Dodge."
"We take something like this seriously," said Shams. "You never know when it could get to another level."
Islamic Center of Des Moines board member Jamal Muhammad said he was saddened and worried by the note.
"In this climate, we have to take these things seriously because it could escalate," he said.
Muhammad said he hoped to see elected officials speak out and condemn the hateful rhetoric towards Des Moines Muslims, as well as Muslims around the world, whether the denunciation came from US Rep. Steve King or Trump.
Last week, King, a Republican from Iowa, tweeted a suggestion that Muslim children are preventing “our civilization” from being restored.
King, who was retweeting a message endorsing Geert Wilders, a far-right candidate who came in second during Wednesday's election for Dutch prime minister, said Wilders “understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies.”
In the days after the March 12 tweet, King doubled down on his tweet, saying he "meant exactly what I said" in an interview with CNN.
"Politicians should make statements about this kind of stuff," Muhammad said. "It would be good to see elected officials — whether they're Democrat or Republican or what — they should condemn things like this."
The Iowa chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, an organization that advocates for Muslims' civil rights, called for a hate crime investigation of the anti-Muslim note in a news release.
Similar hate messages have been sent to other Iowa mosques, as well as mosques in Alabama, Kentucky, Maryland and Virginia, according to the CAIR release.
Shams said the Islamic center is thankful for their "good neighbors" in the Des Moines community who reached out after word spread about the note Sunday.
One community member dropped off a card reading, "I heard about the hateful letter you received. Know that you are welcome here." Another left flowers and put up a sign near the center's driveway reading "You Belong" with a picture of the Statue of Liberty.
Shams said he plans to meet with members of the FBI on Monday to discuss the incident. He said the Islamic center has video footage of the incident they'll release to officials along with the threatening note.
Des Moines Police Sgt. Paul Parizek said via text message Sunday evening that he couldn't confirm whether a report had been filed in regards to the incident. - The Des Moines Register