The town of Jaffrey, New Hampshire, saw an Islamophobic sign affixed to a tree last week. Now, many people are concerned that this is part of a growing trend of hate-filled attacks popping up across the country and the globe.
Local news sources said the anti-Islam sign reading “Islam is A Death Cult” was first reported to the police sometime last week. But according to Jaffrey Police Chief William Oswalt, officials weren't sure whether the sign was put up earlier that week or even long before that. During the weekend, however, someone took it down.
Hanging on a tree across from a private large field on Mountain Road, the sign was not considered a “violation of law,” Oswalt said. Feeling the sign should be protected under free speech laws, nothing was done to compel whoever put it up to bring it down. Still, at least one more person called the police department to say the sign offended them.
To Oswalt, the appearance of this type of sign is problematic as it has raised concerns regarding racial tensions in the region.
“It certainly reminds us that we’re not immune to that sort of thing,” he told reporters.
While this particular incident has been seen as offensive and an act of sheer ignorance — as it should — many other Islamophobic incidents in the recent past happened to be much darker and even more concerning.
According to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), there has been a 57 percent increase in Islamophobic and anti-Muslim bias incidents across the country from 2015 to 2016. At this rate, the number of similar incidents could be even higher this year, especially as political divisiveness pushes so many people to be openly hateful toward those they perceive as their “enemies.”