On Thursday afternoon, firefighters and police were called to the Capitol HIll office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Washington DC, after the Muslim rights group received an envelope in the mail containing a white powder. The letter came around 13.00, CAIR spokesperson Ibrahim Hooper told BuzzFeed News. Employees of CAIR were promptly evacuated after the discovery of the foreign substance, and currently some employees are being quarantined at the building.
Though the incident was reminiscent of the 2001 anthrax attacks, preliminary field tests indicated the foreign substance is "not dangerous," but the letter has now been taken by the FBI for further testing, CAIR wrote on its Facebook page. Even so, the envelope with the mysterious white powder represents an escalation in the type of hateful messages the group says it receives on a regular basis.
"We receive hate messages daily because of our advocacy on behalf of the American Muslim community" CAIR's staff attorney Maha Sayed said via the group's Facebook. "It's frightening to experience the hate manifest itself to such a real level. This will not deter us from continuing to protect the civil rights and liberties of all Americans."
The envelope to CAIR is perhaps the most serious example yet of widespread Islamophobia that has ratcheted up across the globe in the wake of the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino. Just in the past month, vandals ripped up a copy of the Koran and flung poop at a mosque in Texas, a medical student was shouted down for texting by a paranoid New York City moviegoer, a severed pig's head was left in the toilet of a mosque at an Australian University, another pig's head was thrown at a mosque in Philadelphia, and a Muslim in Fredericksburg, Virginia, was shouted down at a town hall meeting when he proposed building a mosque on property he owns.
Meanwhile, GOP presidential candidates have been competing to see who can talk toughest. Ted Cruz has declared that we are currently "at a time of war" with radical Islam, Mike Huckabee compared Syrian refugees to spoiled Chipotle burritos, and Ben Carson compared them to a rabid dog roaming the neighborhood. And, of course, this week Donald Trump upped the ante by suggesting we bar all Muslims from entry into the US.
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