The Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago) will hold a news conference today to demand that federal terrorism charges be brought against an Illinois man who got off with just two years probation and ‘anger management’ classes after he bombed a Muslim family’s van.

WHEN: Tuesday, September 23, 1 p.m. (Central)
WHERE: In front of the Dirksen Federal Building, 230 S. Dearborn, Chicago, Ill.
CONTACT: 312-922-4720 or 708-415-7927

Eric K. Nix, 24, was sentenced last week in the 5th District of Cook County Circuit Court (case 03CR0945401) after being charged with arson, criminal damage to property and committing a hate crime. In March, Nix threw an explosive device into the van of a Burbank, Ill., Palestinian Muslim family. The van’s door was blown off, shattered glass was thrown up to 30 feet away and a hole was punched in the vehicle’s floor.

Nix will be on probation until September 15, 2005. He previously served a 30-day sentence for throwing a brick into an Arab furniture store in suburban Chicago two days after the 9/11 attacks.

“It is unfathomable that a perpetrator of two anti-Muslim hate crimes, including a terrorist bombing, would be let off with a slap on the wrist and ‘anger management’ classes,” said CAIR National Board Chairman Omar Ahmad. “It goes without saying that the result would have been much different had the perpetrator been Muslim or Arab. If the Justice Department wants to prove that it is serious about combating anti-Muslim hate, it must take up this and similar cases at the national level.”

Ahmad cited a Florida case in which a man was sentenced to just 12 years in prison for plotting to attack some 50 Islamic institutions in that state, including a school, as another example of light sentencing for anti-Muslim terrorism.

Since the beginning of this year, CAIR has received a number of reports of physical assaults against American Muslims (or those perceived to be Muslim) and Islamic institutions. Those incidents included a recent arson attack on a Georgia Mosque, a cross burning at a Maryland Islamic school, the kidnapping and beating of a Massachusetts pizza delivery man whose attackers thought he was Muslim, and the shooting of a Sikh man in Arizona who may have been mistaken for an Arab. Similar incidents have been reported in a number of other states. CAIR, America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group, is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and has 16 offices nationwide and in Canada.


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