Police investigate threatening messages left at Ames mosque
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Authorities are investigating a letter left at an Ames mosque that contained anti-Muslim messages and threats, Ames Police Department spokesman Jason Tuttle said Friday.
Officers responded around 4 p.m. Thursday to a report that the note had been left on the door of Darul Arqum Islamic Center in Ames, Tuttle said. Police have since begun working with leaders at the mosque to implement a safety plan and provide extra patrol in the area.
Scrawled on the envelope was an anti-Muslim slur. Inside were three short notes, including a vague threat to the Muslim population, a declaration of hatred and a demand that Muslims leave the United States.
Leaders at the mosque didn’t immediately respond to messages seeking comment Friday.
Tuttle says there doesn’t appear to be any immediate threat to the mosque, but that the nature of the comments has prompted additional precautions.
“Certainly some of the comments that were stated in the letter were concerning to us,” he said.
Tuttle said investigation into who left the letter is ongoing. He said a charge for the crime hasn’t yet been determined.
In a news release distributed Friday, the Iowa chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy group in the country, called on local, state and national authorities to investigate the incident as a hate crime. Miriam Amer, the executive director of the Iowa branch who has lived in the state for nearly 16 years and in the U.S. her entire life, said she views the threats made against the mosque in Ames as part of a recent spike in attacks against American Muslims and their institutions.
“It’s not fair, and it’s not right,” she told The Associated Press. “We are not, in any way, the enemies in this country.”
Shams Ghoneim, vice president of the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa and coordinator of the Muslim Public Affairs Council of Iowa, said she’s “deeply saddened” that such actions have reached Iowa.
“It’s not the Iowa that I’ve known and lived in,” said Ghoneim, who has been in Iowa City since 1967.