By Safvan Allahverdi
Two women known for anti-Muslim rants at Phoenix-area political events, were arrested Thursday for breaking into an Arizona Islamic center and making anti-Islamic remarks, police said.
Tahnee Gonzales, 32, and Elizabeth Dauenhauer, 51, were arrested on suspicion of felony third-degree burglary after an investigation into theft and vandalism at a Tempe mosque.
Arrests came after the mosque officials pressed charges against the women who also filmed themselves and their children spouting hate speech while removing flyers and pamphlets from the mosque.
In the 20-minute long Facebook Live video, the women along with three children, walked around the property. They approached the gate where there is a "no trespassing" sign and a sign prohibiting firearms.
One of the women is heard asking one of the children to take her gun back to their car. They then walk past the entrance and immediately begin removing posters, brochures and other materials while insulting Islam and Muslims.
Imraan Siddiqi, director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy group Arizona chapter told Anadolu Agency on Friday that the women are affiliated with the Arizona Patriot Movement (PMAZ) which was established by far-rights and white supremacists.
Siddiqi said the Muslim community in Arizona has been persistently harassed by the group, adding that in recent years PMAZ members who were carrying firearms stood in front of the building where nearly 600 Muslim community members were inside for an annual event.They were screaming racial slurs to women and little children, Siddiqi said, adding that especially Muslim women are often targeted not only in Arizona but also around the country.
"As a Muslim women, not only in Arizona but most of the state, they will tell you that they have probably been harassed, followed, or tried to get run off the road," he noted. "That is the new normal for a lot of Muslim Americans now."
Recalling the Phoenix mosque incident in 2015 when members of the Arizona Patriot Movement encircled the building with heavy weapons to protest Muslims, Siddiqi said that open carry laws (allows to carry firearms openly), lack of regulations and people who glorify gun usage are serious threats for Muslims.The Southern Poverty Law Center said earlier this year that it found "a dramatic jump in hate violence and incidents of harassment and intimidation around the country" since the President Donald Trump's Nov. 8, 2016 electoral win.