CAIRO - US Muslim leaders have blamed a recent wave of arson attacks on Islamic and Hindu places in eastern New York on politicians who demonize the sizable minority for political gains.
Fear-mongering about Islam and other American minorities have ripped this country apart," Cyrus McGoldrick, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said, Voice of America reported.
"Warmongering politicians and willing media confirm this narrative.
Two firebombs were thrown at the Imam Al-Khoei Foundation Islamic center in the Jamaican area of Queens on Sunday, January 1.
Bombs were also thrown at other places in the area, including a house used for Hindu services.
A man was arrested Tuesday over the attacks, which New York Police said it was investigating whether the attacks were hate crimes.
Police said the suspect may have acted in revenge after being thrown out of a neighborhood store for theft.
New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly quoted witnesses as saying that the suspect was ejected from a convenience store on December 27th.
That individual tried to steal a container of milk and a bottle of Frappuccino," said Kelly.
"When they were pushing him out of the store, he said words to the effect that we're going to get even; we're going to get back at you.'
US Muslims, estimated at between six to eight million, have been sensing a growing hostility following a hearing presented by Republican representative Peter King on what he described as radicalization of US Muslims.
Recently, a Republican Missouri lawmaker described Islam as a disease like polio while another Alaska Rep. branded Muslims as occupiers' of American neighborhoods.
Lawmakers in at least 15 states have introduced proposals forbidding local judges from considering Shari`ah when rendering verdicts on issues of divorces and marital disputes.
Muslim leaders also blamed the police for fuelling anti-Muslim sentiments in the country.
The warrantless and comprehensive surveillance of the Muslim community by the NYPD confirms this narrative, said McGoldrick.
The Associated Press has revealed that New York Police Department has used undercover agents to spy on Muslim communities.
The report showed that the New York Police sent out undercover officers into ethnic communities to track daily life and monitor mosques as well as Muslim student organizations.
It also revealed that NYPD intelligence, titled the most aggressive domestic intelligence agency in the US, had established so-called Demographics Unit using plainclothes police officers to monitor ethnic groups in the metropolitan region.
The report has prompted Muslim leaders to boycott an inter-faith breakfast hosted by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg last week.
The Muslim Peace Coalition-USA also heaped the blame on the police for fuelling the anti-Muslim hostility, reported Agence France-Presse (AFP).
In a statement distributed at the meeting between Bloomberg and Muslim leaders Tuesday, the group described an anti-Islam and anti-Muslim campaign that had "made Islamophobia politically acceptable in America."
It highlighted attempts by the police "to keep the whole Muslim community under warrantless surveillance."
During the meeting, Bloomberg tried to calm Muslim worries following the attacks.
I think we all know that we are in this together," Bloomberg said during a visit to the Imam Al-Khoei Foundation Islamic center to lend support to Muslims.
"Discrimination against anybody is discrimination against everyone.
A recent report by CAIR, the University of California and Berkeley's Center for Race and Gender found that Islamophobia in the US is on the rise.
A US survey had also revealed that the majority of Americans know very little about Muslims and their faith.A recent Gallup poll had found that 43 percent of Americans Nationwide admitted to feeling at least a little prejudice against Muslims.