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Liberal blog Vocativ.com recently reported that the European-based Soldiers Of Odin activist group has been spreading through the U.S. and recently had a confrontation with a Muslim Imam in Colorado. As Vocativ sees it, the meeting is evidence of the “vigilante group targeting U.S. mosques.”
The group has seen a rising membership in Europe–especially Finland–as a result of the influx of hundreds of thousands of Muslim immigrants flooding into the region causing crimes such as theft, property damage, and rape to soar.
Soldiers of Odin (SOO) are considered a “far right” hate group in Europe and a recent article in the Daily Mail warned that the motorcycle-gang-like group is causing tensions to boil worse than they already are as crime spikes in Europe due to the influx of immigrants.
According to reports, the SOO have been expanding its presence in the U.S. and recently a group of members confronted a Muslim Imam in Northglenn, Colorado. The SOO’s presence in the U.S. is very recent. The group only started its U.S. Facebook page in February of 2016, but they already claim to have over 4,000 members nation wide.
Enter Vocativ. A June 9 piece by Vocativ blogger James King reported SOO members had set up a vigil outside a mosque in Northglenn and was soon asked inside by the Imam who ran the place.
According to the story the Imam reported his discussion with the members was respectful and fruitful. But afterward the Imam became worried because the SOO’s social media posts seemed to have a bit more pointed flavor than what he observed in the meeting.
“We let them know we are here in Colorado, our eyes and ears are on them, and that we will not tolerate Radicalism and/or Sharia law anywhere in Colorado,” said SOO member Hal Eugene Halvorson on his Facebook page where he reported his account of the group’s findings.
After seeing the Facebook page and despite feeling the meeting between he and the SOO members was respectful, the Imam called the police to report a possible hate crime.
Mark Pitcavage, a senior research fellow with the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism says the incident is likely only a precursor to further actions by the SOO and possible violence in the long term. The ADL has been watching the SOO build its presence in the U.S. since early this year.
“This vigilante ‘patrol’ from the Soldiers of Odin USA–in which they appear to have targeted a mosque, even entering it and allegedly interrogating an imam there–shows that the group is becoming more aggressive as it organizes itself,” Pitcavage warned.
Pitcavage’s rhetoric mischaracterizes the incident to a degree. The SOO members didn’t really “enter” the mosque and “interrogate an imam” as much as they agreed to an invitation from the Imam to come inside the building for a discussion.
Pitcavage went on to warn U.S. Muslims to refuse any interaction with the SOO. “If members are invited into the Mosques as guests it is at the discretion of the commanding member to authorize or refuse that invitation.,” he said.
Regardless, just as SOO is warning U.S. Muslims that they are being watched, the ADL wants it known that the SOO, too, are being watched.
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