The Islamic Center of Ann Arbor received an anti-Muslim letter last Wednesday, referring to Muslims as “children of Satan” and President-elect Donald Trump as the “new sheriff in town” who will “cleanse America.”
The same letter has been sent to mosques in California, Indiana, Rhode Island, Georgia, Ohio and Colorado, according to the Detroit Free Press. In Michigan, East Lansing’s mosque has also received a letter.
According to the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ Twitter account, the letters are under federal investigation, and it is currently unknown who is sending them. The group refers to itself as “Americans for a Better Way.”
The letter contained anti-Islamic sentiment, calling Muslims “a vile and filthy people” and suggesting they “pack (their) bags and get out of Dodge.” The author also drew parallels to the Holocaust, stating Trump is “going to cleanse America and make it shine again. He is going to do to you what Hitler did to the Jews.”
The author also expressed his support for Trump, noting that “this is a great time for patriotic Americans. Long live President Trump.”
Trump’s campaign rhetoric sparked controversy on several topics, including his stance on Muslim immigration. His website called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on,” attributing the cause to “major Islamic attacks” that he claims were conducted by children of Muslim immigrants. This claim has not been substantiated.
Following the election results, a series of crime alerts for hate crimes near the University of Michigan’s campus has occurred, including one targeting a Muslim student. On the Friday following Trump’s win, a female Muslim student was approached by a man who demanded she take off her hijab, threatening to light her on fire if she refused. A few days later, another female student was pushed down a hill after being ethnically intimidated on campus.
Other similar incidents have also occurred that were not sent out as crime alerts, including one in which an Ann Arbor resident found swastikas drawn on his door and another in which four men assaulted a University lecturer.
Sixty-three percent of Muslim students on campus have reported experiencing discrimination based on their race or religion, according to the University's Islamophobia Working Group. LSA junior Haleemah Aqel, who is involved in the group, said she felt both sadness and resignation in regards to these incidents.
“It’s sad to say I am not surprised that happened because of the climate not only on campus but in the U.S.,” she said. “Xenophobia is such a prevalent issue in our society. These instances are so ‘Wow I can’t believe this,’ but at the same time I can. It was bound to happen.”