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Terrorists attack Ohio mosque

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Earlier, I mentioned the Obsession DVD that was inserted in millions of newspapers around the country. That DVD paints a rigid and extreme vision of Islam, with intent to mislead rather than inform. Now, the predictable result of that hate-mongering propaganda is beginning to manifest; on Friday, a mosque in Dayton, OH was tear-gassed, with women and children inside:

Baboucarr Njie was preparing for his prayer session Friday night,
Sept. 26, when he heard children in the Islamic Society of Greater
Dayton coughing. Soon, Njie himself was overcome with fits of coughing
and, like the rest of those in the building, headed for the doors.

“I would stay outside for a minute, then go back in, there were a
lot of kids,” Njie said. “My throat is still itchy, I need to get some
milk.”

Njie was one of several affected when a suspected chemical irritant
was sprayed into the mosque at 26 Josie St., bringing Dayton police,
fire and hazardous material personnel to the building at 9:48 p.m.

Someone “sprayed an irritant into the mosque,” Dayton fire District
Chief Vince Wiley said, noting that fire investigators believe it was a
hand-held spray can.

According to fire dispatch communications, a child reported seeing
two men with a white can spraying something into a window. That child
was brought to the supervising firefighter at the scene.

This is the only mainstream media report on the incident so far. A diarist at DailyKos shares an email from one of the congregants, and that account is far more chilling. Some excerpts:

“She told me that the gas was sprayed into the room where the babies
and children were being kept while their mothers prayed together their
Ramadan prayers. Panicked mothers ran for their babies, crying for
their children so they could flee from the gas that was burning their
eyes and throats and lungs. She grabbed her youngest in her arms and
grabbed the hand of her other daughter, moving with the others to exit
the building and the irritating substance there.

“The paramedic said the young one was in shock, and gave her oxygen to help her breathe. The child couldn’t stop sobbing.

“This didn’t happen in some far away place — but right here in
Dayton, and to my friends. Many of the Iraqi refugees were praying
together at the Mosque Friday evening. People that I know and love.

[...]

“The children come into the room, and tell me they want to leave
America and return to Syria, where they had fled to from Iraq. They say
they like me, … , and other American friends — but they are too
afraid and want to leave. Should a 6 and 7 year old even have to
contemplate the safety of their living situation?

“Did the anti-Muslim video circulating in the area have something to
do with this incident, or is that just a bizarre coincidence? Who
attacks women and children?

Anyone who tries to disclaim any link between this despicable attack and the release of 20 million copies of the Obsession DVD is either a fool or a liar. That DVD was intended to bring about precisely this kind of demonization. What is most shocking about the Obsession DVD is that it is most likely funded by the very people you would think would know all too well the wages of this kind of directed hate, scapegoating, and fear-mongering.

Incidentally, it doesn’t stop here. There’s a new Islamophobic film due to be released in early October, in time for Eid al Fitr: The Third Jihad. This is a “tsunami of Islamophobia” that is clearly aimed at influencing the election in November.

Related: coverage of Obsession at Talk Islam. Also, in addition to the report by Richard Silverstein I linked above, see this report by NPR on the Clarion Fund, the secretive organization behind the DVD, and this essay by Sheila Musaji that goes in-depth about the Clarion Fund’s secretive backers.

UPDATE: New details have emerged in the case, including a lack of direct evidence of the irritant, and a can of pepper spray found nearby. More details in this follow-up post



  • Abdull

    If this is true then shame upon those that pulled this prank.
    Meanwhile, Islamic radicals killed more than 100 innocents around the world while we ignore their acts.

  • Joey V.

    Hey Abdul (with 2 L’s in your name, odd):
    Why do you find it appropriate to react to this horrendous racist act by questioning the story than giving some mangled, non-specific comment?

  • Maya

    How can anyone do such a thing? Specially during Ramadan, If you have hate in you, take it out in a war, not on innocent women and children… and Islamic Radicals are only DEFENDING thier life, (AbduLL) Maybe you should read about how these ISLAMIC RADICALS came into exsistance, and why they live in such conditions.. they have a message, “Get out of thier Land” “let them live”

  • zeanna

    This is horrible and should be all over the media. While I think the connection to the DVD is only theoretical, the act itself is, as you have rightly called it, terrorism.
    Here is a thought, to get this covered in the media, someone needs to spin it as a terrorist attack on a “church”. Attacks on churches are a BIG deal, mosques not so much.

  • a christian-,trying to be, anyway-

    so very sorry -
    terrorism is no respector of persons-
    i got that dvd in my paper-
    and threw it away-
    my husband spent 7 mos in Iraq-as an Army doctor-
    the Iraqi people-almost all were Muslim-
    were very kind to him, and he has a high regard for these people.
    violence is not an answer.

  • Lynn

    “He [Gula]said he had no idea what might have caused the incident. “It might be anything,” he said.
    When Dayton fire and emergency personnel arrived at 26 Josie St. on Friday night, they noticed an odor. HAZMAT workers checked the structure for pepper spray and other irritants, but found nothing.”
    http://www.daytondailynews.com/n/content/oh/story/news/local/2008/09/28/ddn092808islamicweb.html

  • hootie1fan

    A terrorist is a terrorist no matter in the name of which God they commit such acts.

  • Al

    I feel that if the newspapers were to allow that garbage like those despicable DVDs into their newspapers they should be held accountable and the Southern Poverty Law Center and CAIR should get involved since circulated those DVDs alone is a hate crime.I hope the FBI gets involved and bring those guilty to justice.

  • Al

    Don’t forget to throw in the ACLU!

  • Lynn

    ” . . . there were no chemicals found on the 10-year-old girl.”
    Dayton Daily News; 9/29/08.

  • Robert Spencer

    http://www.jihadwatch.org/archives/022904.php
    Will Aziz Poonawalla issue a retraction and an apology to the producers of Obsession? Let’s just say I won’t be holding my breath.

  • Thomas Paine

    This has been debunked as a hate crime hoax, and Aziz Poonawalla is guilty of fanning the flames of hatred against non-Muslims.
    You should be ashamed, Aziz.

  • Cyril Lucar

    I wonder if the REAL hate crime here is the attempt to silence critical speech by falsely accusing your critics of inciting violence. The members of the mosque went a step further and invented a hate crime so they could falsely accuse their critics of inciting violence.
    I am unaware of any country where Muslims have the reigns of power and do not use them to perpetrate “hate crimes” against Christians with state sponsorship, state approval, or state protection.
    Maybe you guys could, instead of attempting to bully people through lies and intimidation, produce and distribute the same type of DVD about Christian fundamentalists. You could show chilling footage of families dressed in homespun clothes driving black buggies and selling homemade root beer.

  • abdirahman ahmed

    is everything okay with the children that was
    in there when this tragedy happen

  • Denny in Dayton

    Well now it turns out it was just kids playing with pepper spray. I live just 4 blocks from this mosque and if you would pay attention to what was said by the leaders of the mosque, the police and even the media you would have realized it was not a hate crime at all and not related to the DVD. So knock it off!
    http://www.daytondailynews.com/n/content/oh/story/news/local/2008/10/07/ddn100708mosquefolo.html
    I am rather bothered by all the people running around spreading hate while accusing others of spreading hate. One of the most common accounts on the web is one by Chris Rodda on the Daily Koz. She was interviewed by the Dayton Daily News and said this: “Rodda said she “sensationalized” the headline on her blog to draw attention.
    “I was mad, so I sort of shot from the hip,” Rodda said, adding she has not talked to any law enforcement agencies, hospital officials or Islamic Center president Dr. Tarek Sabagh. She said her information came from people who know some people that attend the mosque.”
    http://www.daytondailynews.com/n/content/oh/story/news/local/2008/10/03/ddn100308mosque.html
    In other words she made it up! She didn’t shoot from the hip, she shot herself in the foot and now a whole bunch of you look really stupid.
    And how many have seen the video? I wasn’t going to bother and watch it until all this. I’ve now watched some and it starts out with a VERY clear message at the beginning that “Most Muslims are peace loving and denounce terrorism. This movie is NOT about THEM. It is about radical Muslims who are a threat to the world, both Muslim and non-Muslim”. It then goes on to show many attacks made by these extremists and for what I have seen (about the first 15 min) nothing is very surprising to anyone who stays up on current events.
    My neighborhood meeting is tonight and I’m hoping we will have perhaps even the Chief of the Dayton Police there to give us more information. Perhaps even Dr. Sabagh will be there.
    In the mean time I’d sure like to hear some apologies from Aziz and others who have been saying some pretty uniformed and inflammatory things that are now being repeated around the world.

  • Cat

    Not only were no chemicals found on the allegedly attacked child or in the building by the HAZMAT team, the suspicious pepper spray can was, as it turns out, found inside and not outside. Police are questioning a 10-year-old boy and his family, all of whom attend the mosque.
    http://www.daytondailynews.com/n/content/oh/story/news/local/2008/10/07/ddn100708mosquefolo.html

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