In commemoration of the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a bigoted Florida gun shop owner Andy Hallinan offered a free car wash, beer and $25 off any gun purchased online if customers used the coupon code "Muslim."
The “offer” was, of course, xenophobic to the core, however, it was just the beginning of a rather difficult week for Muslims across the United States.
On Sept. 14, Ahmed Mohamed, a 14-year-old student from Irving, Texas, was handcuffed, interrogated and suspended for making a homemade clock and bringing it to school to impress his teacher.
And while the kid received overwhelming support from across the country, including Mark Zuckerberg and even President Barack Obama, the principal and many teachers still side with the school’s decision to handcuff the boy over a clock.
In fact, the main factor that triggered Ahmed’s arrest, i.e. the paranoia of Islamic extremism, looms large in Irving still as the city’s mayor, Beth Van Duyne, also stands by authorities for detaining him.
Predictably, the days following Ahmed’s arrest gave a chance to television bigots like Bill Maher and Sarah Palin to spew vitriol against Muslims.
The HBO host assured his panel that he would not be jumping on the #IStandWithAhmed bandwagon anytime soon because, while he believed Ahmed deserved an apology from school officials, he could not blame them for arresting him.
“People at the school thought it might be a bomb … because it looks exactly like a f*cking bomb,” Maher exclaimed.
Later on came the following gem from Sarah Palin who actually suggested Ahmed made the bomb-like clock on purpose:
"If that's a clock, I'm the queen of England," the former Alaska governor wrote on Facebook, adding the 14-year-old was “asking” to be arrested.
Our local Mosque got vandalized today. This place is like my home. Yes, right here in Louisville, KY. I am horrified. pic.twitter.com/dkfIEyE5aE— Zoha (@zohamian1) September 17, 2015
And as the entire nation was busy in taking sides over Ahmed, an Islamic center in Kentucky was vandalized with anti-Muslim graffiti on Sept. 16.
The members of the Louisville Islamic Center saw messages like “Nazis speak Arabic” and “Moslems – leave the Jews alone” spray-painted on the building when they arrived for an evening prayer.
"We knew that hatred will hit us one day but there was always a brink of hope that our community outreach efforts may deflect it away from us," mosque spokesman Muhammad Babar wrote in a letter to NBC News. "But fact of the matter is that we are hit hard right here in our compassionate city of Louisville at a place that is [a] center of tolerance and compassion."
As the city’s authorities are looking into the incident, the FBI is also helping to investigate the vandalism as an apparent hate crime, according to NBC affiliate WAVE.
Then came the third biggest – and the second-most documented – Islamophobic event of the week on Sept. 17: Donald Trump’s campaign speech at a town hall in Rochester, New Hampshire.
While responding to an audience member’s disturbingly anti-Muslim question, Trump promised to “look into” getting rid of all Muslims in the country.
And the worst part is, despite such shameless endorsement of xenophobia and a non-apology from the media mogul, Trump continues to lead in polls, according to the latest NBC News online survey.
To cap it all, another Republican presidential hopeful, Ben Carson offered his two cents on Islam and Muslims on Sunday.
Answering a question on Meet the Press, the retired neurosurgeon said he doesn’t think a Muslim is fit to run as president in the U.S. because Islamic teachings are inconsistent with the Constitution.
There is no doubt about how people came to Ahmed’s defense following his arrest. It was an exemplary demonstration of solidarity and humanity. However, it wouldn’t be a sweeping to state that it was an intense week for American-Muslims nevertheless.
More importantly, some of the root problems that caused these incidents – Ahmed’s arrest, the hateful graffiti and Trump’s answer – still exist. For example, the Irving mayor isn’t budging from her defense of Ahmed’s wrongful arrest and Trump is still popular among voters.
In order to prevent this week of hate turning into a year – or years – of hate, it’s crucial that these causes are addressed without further ado.