I can. And I suspect many Mariettans can too about the eagerness of Islamic officials to suggest that the blaze that gutted a mosque on Powder Springs Road this week was a “hate crime.” And about how city officials appeared ready to either buy into that argument, or at a minimum, let themselves be suckered into being used as stage props by those making that argument.
The fire broke out near midnight Monday, mere minutes after the conclusion of a service there.
Yet by Wednesday mosque officials had already called a press conference, at which they were joined by Islamic leaders from near saying the culprit was “Islamophobia” and hinting at a “hate crime” connection.
"The Islamic Circle of North America feels very strongly that these incidents of Islamophobia are on the rise in our country," declared Naeem Baig, vice president of the Islamic Council of North America. "It is very sad to see that just a day after we celebrated Independence Day on the Fourth of July, the very next day, on the fifth of July, somebody came and decided to destroy this property, a house of worship. This is not what America is."
Marietta Fire officials, meanwhile, were scrupulously avoiding the use of the word “hate crime” as the cause of the fire.
Also at the press conference were Mayor Steve Tumlin and Ward 2 Councilman Grif Chalfant, in whose district the mosque stands, who expressed their dismay at the fire. But I suspect that they quickly began to see the conference as a case of the “tail wagging the dog.”
They, or somebody at City Hall, should have taken a moment to find out who they would be sharing the stage with at their press conference. For it turns out they let themselves – and our city — be used as a whipping boy by one Siraj Wahhaj. All it takes is two minutes on Google to learn that Wahhaj is an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, a man who wants to see Muslims take control of the U.S. and replace the Constitution with an Islamic caliphate. A man who testified in 1999 as a character witness for convicted terror mastermind Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman.
Why would the more “legitimate” Islamic leaders at the conference, and the mosque imam Hafiz Inayatullah, invite such a thug to be part of the press conference? Why would they give him a platform to spout his brand of hatred? He has left them — and the mayor, and our city — looking like stooges. And he has left the local mosque and its attendees looking like they sympathize with his foul agenda, which I suspect many of them do not.
Oh, and by the way: Marietta police have now arrested and charged one Tamsir Lucien Mendy for the arson. Mendy — wouldn’t you just know it? — is a member of the mosque.
Marietta officials should have seen this one coming and steered clear of the press conference.
I suggest the next time you hear Islamic officials complain about alleged “hate crimes,” you take it with a big grain of salt.