Tahnee Gonzales and Elizabeth Dauenhauer of Tempe, Arizona, appear to have filmed themselves wandering through the mosque last week. The video, which was livestreamed to Facebook, shows two women grabbing pamphlets and ripping down flyers, with at least three children in tow.
Ms Gonzales and Ms Dauenhauer were arrested several days later and charged with third degree burglary. Tempe Police spokeswoman Lily Duran told reporters the charge could be upgraded to a hate crime. The women were released on bail Friday but ordered to wear electronic monitoring bracelets.
The case sparked interest around the country, after the Facebook video went viral. The women can be heard yelling derogatory comments about Muslims, claiming they are trying to expose the “evil” of Islam, which they claim is infiltrating their "nice suburban city".
“We’re coming after you!” one of the women can be heard yelling at a man near the entrance of the mosque. “We the people, that's right. You guys are on your way out … You guys stand for evil and nothing but evil.”
When a dog approaches the man, she yells at it to run away, claiming the man will eat it.
“You guys are terrible to women,” she says later. “...Pedophile runs deep in the Muslim community.”
In the video, the women can be seen ripping flyers off of the mosque’s cork boards and taking handfuls of pamphlets out of their stands. They also took Qurans, air fresheners, calendars and other items, according to a probable cause statement obtained by Arizona Central.
Ahmad Al-Akoum, the interfaith and outreach director for the mosque, said that some of his members were “scared and very disturbed and disgusted” by the situation.
“As for myself I am very saddened that those women are dragging their young innocent children into this and teaching them to hate," he told CNN. "Those children are being given false information. I am so sad for them."
The leader of the Anti-Defamation League, an organisation dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism, called the video “extremely disturbing and ugly on so many levels”.
“Sadly, the behaviour we see in the videos is consistent with the growth in hate crimes, rise in attacks on Muslims, and the surge in anti-Muslim bigotry and anti-Semitism we have seen the last couple of years,” CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said.
Hate crimes against Muslims increased for the second year in a row in 2016, surpassing the levels seen directly after the September 11 terrorist attacks, according to FBI crime statistics.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, which collects data on hate crimes, said anti-Muslim incidents spiked in the first half of 2017 as well. At the time, CAIR coordinator Zainab Arain attributed some of the rising violence to the election of President Donald Trump.
"The presidential election campaign and the Trump administration have tapped into a seam of bigotry and hate that has resulted in the targeting of American Muslims and other minority groups," Ms Arain told Al-Jazeera.
Ms Gonzales’s Facebook profile shows her posed in front of an American flag with Mr Trump's face on it, wearing a “Make America Great Again”.
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