Ohio treasurer Josh Mandel tweeted the above story out last Thursday. "Ohio Mosque chains kids to walls & beats them for not reading Quran," he said. "We must protect women & kids from these people."
The subject of the tweet probably wouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who follows Mandel on social media. Indeed, following a Trumpian tone, the treasurer has repeatedly voiced his concerns of "radical Islamic terrorism" in recent months and, at times, also made posts that could more generally be regarded as anti-Islamic. The above one is a good example, mainly because of its many problems.
First: The story itself is three years old. This didn't happen last week or even last month.
Second, as Cleveland.com pointed out in today's extensive and excellent feature
delving into Mandel's suspiciously anti-Islam postings, the allegations contained in the story proved to be unproven. In fact, no kids were chained to walls or beaten for not reading the Quran.
Mandel's brief post did not mention the Columbus TV story was more than three years old. Contacted by cleveland.com, the chairman of the Masjid As-Salaamah mosque provided documents showing a subsequent investigation by Franklin County Children Services found the allegations to be unsubstantiated. (Click here for a PDF.) A member of the mosque community said Columbus police briefly investigated the matter, but a police spokesman said there was no incident report filed.
Third, the station has now pulled the story offline
. 10TV's general manager didn't return a call from Scene asking for comment but later told Cleveland.com that a mosque official had presented evidence that the allegations had been unsubstantiated and the article was pulled "for now."
Regardless of the first two points, Mandel spokesperson Chris Berry defended Mandel's tweet, telling Cleveland.com: "Whether it was three weeks ago, three months ago or three years, Treasurer Mandel will be a fierce fighter against the abuse of children and against the anti-woman Sharia law."
Mandel himself told reporter Andrew Tobias: "What we're really seeing is a clash of civilizations where in America we embrace and cherish Judeo-Christian values, especially the value of protecting innocent life. Whereas radical Muslims seem to wake up in the morning motivated to spill American blood and trample on our Judeo-Christian values. Listen, I believe there's a silent majority in America that may not always speak out on this issue, but they feel the exact same way I feel."
Incidentally, if he wanted to share current and accurate news about mosques in Ohio last week, Cleveland.com noted, instead of rehashing a years-old article containing disproven allegations, Mandel could have shared news of the Columbus area man who was indicted for a hate crime for vandalizing a mosque earlier this year.