Nimer Ead is a 55-year-old design engineer who resides in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. He also happens to be Muslim. This past Saturday, a neighbor noticed a strange backpack in the yard outside the three-family building where Ead shares a first-floor apartment with his family and called the police. State bomb investigators responded, discovering a black-and-tan backpack that had no explosives or dangerous contents, but included the ambiguously ominous phrase, "USA Bomb."
The Council on American-Islamic Relations is asking authorities to investigate the message as a hate crime.
In the aftermath of the Boston bombing, there have been a handful of small-scale retaliations against the Muslim community. On the day of Marathon, a stranger shoved a second-year Northeastern student speaking Arabic on the Boston subway so hard she fell to the ground. Two days later, an angry man punched a Muslim woman on the shoulder in Malden, Massachusetts and called her a "terrorist," as she was pushing her nine-month-old daughter. This past weekend, vandals tagged an Oklahoma mosque with obscenities.
"There's definitely this odd balance of hate and compassion right now," 22-year-old Anum Hussain, regional director of Muslim Inter-Scholastic Tournament, told us last week. "There's the compassion that's coming from our leaders and people who are prominent in the communities," she explained. "But there's another group of people who don't feel that way. And it's scary."
Update: Upon further examination, the Woonsocket Police don't believe the backpack was a threat to the Muslim family, just a coincidentally placed backpack of stolen goods. "Inside the bag authorities found items that had been stolen from nearby vehicles," the AP reports.
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