Although it’s yet to be determined if an Aug. 13 attack in New York City, in which a Muslim imam and his associate who were fatally shot, was a religiously motivated crime, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio condemned the shooting, saying Muslims are living "in the crosshairs of bigotry."
Imam Maulama Akonjee, 55, and Thara Uddin, 64, were shot in the head in the city’s borough of Queens.
CCTV footage of the incident shows a man creeping up from behind them as the pair left the Al-Furqan Jame Masjid mosque, and shoot them both in the head.
Local members of the Muslim community believe the shooting was a hate crime, but police say there is no evidence so far about whether the attacker targeted the two because of their faith. They have also released a sketch of the suspect, who witnesses described having “medium complexion.”
“While we do not yet know the motivation for the murders of Maulama Akonjee and Thara Uddin, we do know that our Muslim communities are in the perpetual crosshairs of bigotry," the NYC mayor said in a statement.
In June, the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the UC-Berkeley Center for Race and Gender released a report in which researchers recorded 78 attacks on mosques in 2015, the highest figure since the group started recording such incidents in 2009.
The situation has been made worse due to Donald Trump’s Islamophobic rhetoric. For more than a year, he has been portraying American-Muslims and immigrants as potential terrorists. His promises to ban Muslims coming to the U.S. and vile comments such as the one in which he talked about killing Muslims with "bullets dipped in pig blood” have further fueled anti-Muslim sentiment.
Again, it’s not yet confirmed if the Queens attack was a hate crime, nor whether the attacker was inspired by Trump. But if the affected community feels Trump’s vitriol is to blame, it is indeed concerning and worth investigating.