Austin, Texas, one of the few progressive centers in the state, has recently experienced a clear pattern of attacks on Muslims in the past two months. Since early August, the North Austin Muslim Community Center (NAMCC) has been vandalized three times. The vandals slashed the tires of vehicles in the parking lot, smashed the glass doors and windows of the mosque, and urinated on one of the damaged vehicles. Because the vandals made no attempt to steal from the mosque, and the urination was clearly meant as an insult, the mosque and the Austin community are treating the attacks as a hate crime.
Not long after, in the early morning of Sept. 17, an attacker shattered the entry doors of the New Madina Market. The New Madina Market is a grocery store that serves Halal meat and food products from across the Middle East. Currently, these attacks are believed to be related and likely perpetrated by the same person, a white or Latino male who appeared on security camera footage at the time of the attacks.
Hate crimes are on the rise nationally and the Muslim community in Austin often becomes a target for white supremacist violence. A Council on American-Islamic Relations report on Islamophobia found that between April and June of this year, anti-Muslim incidents increased 83 percent across the nation. That same study found that hate crimes overall have increased 21 percent compared to the first quarter of 2018.
Austin’s Black community has also been attacked this year by package bombs that killed Draylen Mason and Anthony Stephan House. While no official motive was established, both of the victims who were killed were closely connected to historic Black churches.
Austin’s reputation as a “progressive” city (even if that label is not always deserved) and the fact that it is the state capitol make it a constant target for white supremacists. The attacks on the NAMCC and New Madina Market appear to be the latest hate crimes to rock the city.
The mosque is continuing to stand for promoting religious harmony, even in the face of these attacks, and the vast majority of Austin stands in support of the Muslim community.
On Sept. 26, the mosque hosted a public event “Peaceful Harmony in Islam” to discuss what Islam has to offer in promoting peace between peoples. A human chain of solidarity gathered outside the mosque the next day to show support and protection for the mosque during its weekly holiday.