Target: Governor of Missouri Jay Nixon
Goal: Enact stricter laws and awareness campaigns to prevent violent Islamophobia
In 2007 the Islamic Society of Joplin, Missouri opened a mosque for its Islamic community, the only mosque within a 50-mile radius. Since then, the mosque has been violently attacked via arson on several occasions. The first was in 2007, just after opening, when the establishment sign was burned down. The second was on July 4 of 2012, when a man attempted to light the building aflame. Although caught on camera, neither video evidence nor a $15,000 reward offered by the FBI and ATI have resulted in an arrest. It was on August 6 that the mosque was completely burnt to the ground – in the middle of the Muslim religious month of Ramadan. The fire has merely been labeled “suspicious”. We demand that such continuous violence be halted from occurring yet again, through stricter placement of laws and communal awareness of this violation of human freedoms.
The day after the August 6 burning, the people of Missouri voted on and approved a 5-to-1 constitutional amendment. While the amendment was outwardly proposed with the goal of protecting individual American’s existing right to assert religious beliefs, several passages were excluded from the ballot, such as the following: “No student shall be compelled to perform or participate in academic assignments or educational presentations that violate his or her religious beliefs.” Further media investigation prompted amendment supporters to publicly state that such hidden passages were a part of an effort to prevent the children of Missouri from having to participate in any Islamic or otherwise “foreign” education at school.
When such laws are being modified, particularly in a mode which hides from voters key sections of the ballot’s intentions, it becomes clear that the violence occurring in Joplin, Missouri is not a simple case of individual ignorance. Rather, the issue is a far-reaching one which requires greater action on the part of citizens in order to better the quality of the state as a whole. The ACLU has already begun by filing a lawsuit against other hidden passages of the ballot. What is proposed here is the creation and strict enforcement of laws which make attacks on buildings such as these as severe a crime as would otherwise be acknowledged on other official Missouri state establishments. Such an effort would also include a campaign aimed at the states people, including schools, not for imposing Islam but simply for a greater awareness of the unacceptably violent nature of such Islamophobia. A new mosque is currently being planned for rebuilding – we move that this mosque be rebuilt within the city limits in order to reduce authority response time as well as provide a greater chance of accountability in the event of more violence, as suggested by Shaded Amanullah on behalf of the Joplin Mosque.
Dear Governor Nixon,
On August 6, 2012 the Islamic Mosque of Joplin was completely destroyed in a suspicious fire. Given that it has been attacked through arson on two separate attempts since being built, in conjunction with the passing of constitutional amendments on August 7, 2012 claiming religious freedom but with hidden ballot passages directly related to discrimination, it is apparent that the Islamic communities of Missouri are in danger.
As their leader, it is of utmost importance to the communal health of your state that new laws be passed which make the consequences of attacking religious buildings as severe as any performed on official state buildings. The communities in need of aid are not only those of Islamic nature, but of every individual in your state. Without the due respect afforded to all religious groups by individuals of any and every religious alignment, progressive development in Joplin is impossible.
Therefore, we also ask that you take up an awareness campaign within Joplin which properly educates to both child and adult alike the necessity of a mature understanding of Islam – regardless of their choice to abstain from adopting the religion themselves. Amendments cannot continue to be made with hidden passages, as open communication is essential. Finally, the new mosque scheduled to be rebuilt should be placed within city limits in order to increase the possibility of its maintenance as well as providing an appropriate symbol of acceptance. Help the state of Missouri put an end to Islamophobia.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Vince Millett via Flickr