It was sometime after morning prayer Sunday that children attending classes at the Islamic Society of Edmond discovered someone had vandalized the building by wrapping bacon on the front door of the building, along with more pork products left on the ground.
Speaking with Adam Soltani, executive director of the Oklahoma chapter of the Council of American-Islamic Relations, he told Red Dirt Report that the offensive vandalism – Muslim dietary guidelines instruct adherents to not consume pork – happened to coincide with a former Muslim who was speaking at nearby Constitution Hall at the University of Central Oklahoma on Sunday evening.
The event, called “Islam & Christianity: A Former Muslim’s Perspective,” was being held by Dr. Mark Christian, a man who was groomed to be an Islamic leader and “stringent” follower of Sharia law. A convert to Christianity, Christian’s visit to UCO’s Constitution Hall at the Nigh Center was sponsored by a relatively unknown conservative campus group called Valid Worldview (#validworldview).
Coincidentally, Christian spoke to an audience at Windsor Hills Baptist Church and the rest of this week he has speaking engagements around the state, including: the Oklahoma State Capitol, at OU’s Oklahoma Memorial Union, at the Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee (OCPAC), the First Baptist Church of Moore and at First Baptist Church of Broken Arrow.
Sharing his concerns about the anti-Islam “Patriot Pastors,” led by Christian church leaders including Pastor Paul Blair; State Rep. John Bennett; and the Kerns, along with local radio hate jock Rick Roberts of KTOK AM, Soltani said the over-the-top rhetoric often coincides with acts of vandalism such as the sort that happened over the weekend.
“Paul Blair is not a friendly man,” Soltani said. “I’m not saying he would do something like this (vandalize a mosque), but his (anti-Muslim rhetoric) could possibly motivate people to do something like this.”
Blair helped put on an anti-Muslim town hall in Edmond – a city that seems to be experiencing a surge in bigotry and anti-Muslim hate.
As an example of the anti-Muslim hatred that exists here, Soltani showed Red Dirt Report a Facebook post made by someone named “Ginger,” who suggested to friends and followers that they shower Muslims with bacon grease and pork products during the Muslim Day at the Capitol held in late February (note “Protesters spew hate at Muslims attending State Capitol event”).
And as for the latest incident, the FBI is investigating, we are told.
So far, folks in other faiths have offered their support for Oklahoma City’s Muslim community, Soltani said and he hopes that more faith leaders will do the same and make a showing of solidarity as they fight hate and bigotry.
“What I’d really like to see is a change against this growing ttrend of anti-Muslim rhetoric and hate crimes,” he said.
Asked how Oklahoma ranks in terms of incidents of Islamophobia, Soltani said Florida is by far the worst but that Oklahoma is ranked pretty high as well, unfortunately.
Soltani also mentioned that there have been issues with the mosque seeking to expand in Edmond and that there have been concerns about that from people in that community, including Islamophobic and right-wing reactionaries who claim the leaders at the mosque are terroritsts. The mosque’s expansion plans still have to go before the Edmond Planning Commission before it can expand.
“I went to Edmond Santa Fe and UCO. I went to (the mosque) and it was a safe place. My concern now is that people will start to feel it is unsafe to go there. The community is, in general, concerned about safety. While what they did is silly … if they could do that, they could do something worse later.”