Muslim Leaders Say Woman Who Burglarized Mosque in Hate Video Deserves Chance at Redemption

Muslim Leaders Say Woman Who Burglarized Mosque in Hate Video Deserves Chance at Redemption

Muslim leaders say woman who burglarized Tempe mosque in hate video deserves chance at redemption
The Islamic Community Center of Tempe, one of the largest mosques in Arizona. (Photo: David Marino Jr./Cronkite News Service)

Members of the Phoenix-area Muslim community were forgiving of the woman who sentenced Tuesday for her role in a Facebook lives-stream that depicted she and a friend burglarizing a Tempe mosque in front of her children in March 2018.

Tahnee Gonzales was sentenced to 225 hours of community service and two years of supervised probation during proceedings before Judge Mark Brain in Maricopa County Superior Court.

Gonzales, who in the live-stream made anti-Muslim remarks, also was ordered to write a letter of apology to the Islamic Community Center of Tempe.

Imraan Siddiqi, executive director of the Arizona chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said that Gonzales’ sentence will serve as a “test case” in which her actions after she completes her sentence will prove her sincerity.

“Being a voice for getting away from this type of mentality is going to be key in our state,” he said. “Start small and give people an understanding of how corrosive this is for your own well-being and mental health as well as the people you’re accosting.”

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He also urged Gonzales to denounce far-right groups such as the Patriot Movement, which, he said, espouses views that are anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim and with whom she was associated prior to the March 2018 incident.

In the meantime, though, Siddiqi said he chooses to take Gonzales at her word and hopes that she’ll eventually consider herself an ally for the Muslim community.

“In this situation, thankfully nobody got hurt so I view it as a chance for the individual to redeem themselves and hopefully denounce the hatred and vitriol that led up to this.”

He hopes that people who still associate with far-right groups will see the repercussions Gonzales faced and will stop “spreading hatred for some online clout.”

Siddiqi said the threats are not new but have been more brazen since the election of President Donald Trump in 2016.