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
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.