A container filled with lard and a defiled copy of the Muslim holy book, the Quran, was mailed to the Sacramento Valley chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations last month, a week after two area mosques were targeted, CAIR officials announced Wednesday.
The foul-smelling package arrived by Federal Express on June 28, sent by an anonymous person from Missouri City, Texas.
Sacramento police spokesman Sgt. Matthew McPhail said police contacted the shipping center from where the package was sent and employees of that facility reviewed surveillance footage. That footage indicated the person who sent the package was a white woman in her 40s or 50s.
“We kept it under wraps because we were concerned about copycats,” said the local council’s executive director, Basim Elkarra.
Four days before the package arrived, Masjid Annur in south Sacramento found a burned Quran wrapped in bacon handcuffed to a chain-link fence, and the Davis Islamic Center found dozens of pages torn out of a Quran strewn outside the mosque. Lauren Kirk-Coehlo, an ex-Google employee from Davis, pleaded guilty in April to vandalizing the Davis mosque in another incident in January.
The attacks have received national attention, part of a nationwide trend of anti-Muslim incidents. “So someone figured they could offend us by sending a tub of lard with the Quran in it,” Elkarra said.
Muslims are not permitted to eat pork products. Elkarra said the pages of the Quran sent by Federal Express were also inscribed with curses, threats and hate speech.
“We’re sad that these incidents take place but we’re not going to be intimidated,” Elkarra said.
The package was received by CAIR staff who contacted Elkarra, who then called Sacramento police.
“They came quickly, opened it up, checked what was inside and are investigating it as a hate incident,” Elkarra said. “We receive hate letters from Florida and other states, and when we receive hate phone calls we do engage them. After they let out their hate we say, ‘Are you done? This is what our faith is all about.’ ”
A few of the callers have ended up calling back with questions, Elkarra added. “For us it’s really about engagement to shed misconceptions,” he said.
Given what Elkarra said are the millions of dollars spent on spreading Islamophobia as well as terrorists incidents overseas people see on the news, “I don’t blame some of our fellow Americans for being angry or concerned,” he said.