An opinion piece in a leading American newspaper has led to heightened security in a city’s Muslim places of worship, as authorities try to make sure no hate crimes occur.
The mayor of Dearborn, Michigan, said the city’s police officers were ramping up their presence across places of worship and major infrastructure points following an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal that he called “bigoted” and “Islamophobic.”
The WSJ published the piece on Friday headlined as “Welcome to Dearborn, America’s Jihad Capital.” The city’s mayor and rights advocates from the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee condemned the piece as anti-Arab and racist for suggesting the city’s residents, including religious leaders and politicians, supported Palestinian Islamist group Hamas and extremism.
“Reckless. Bigoted. Islamophobic,” Dearborn Mayor Abdullah Hammoud said about the WSJ piece written by Steven Stalinsky, executive director of the Middle East Media Research Institute.
“Effective immediately - Dearborn police will ramp up its presence across all places of worship and major infrastructure points. This is a direct result of the inflammatory @WSJ opinion piece that has led to an alarming increase in bigoted and Islamophobic rhetoric online targeting the city of Dearborn,” the mayor added.
The WSJ did not respond to a request for comment. Stalinsky said he stood by his piece. Rights advocates have noted a rise in Islamophobia, anti-Palestinian bias and antisemitism, opens new tab in the U.S. since the eruption of war in the Middle East in October.
Among anti-Palestinian incidents that raised alarm were a November shooting, opens new tab in Vermont of three students of Palestinian descent and the fatal stabbing, opens new tab of a 6-year-old Palestinian American in Illinois in October.
The latest eruption of war in the Middle East began on Oct. 7 when Hamas attacked Israel, opens new tab, killing 1,200. Israel has since assaulted Hamas-governed Gaza, killing over 27,000, according to the local health ministry. Nearly all of Gaza’s 2.3 million population is displaced. The densely populated enclave also faces starvation.