Three years ago, the Ismail family stared in disbelief as an inferno rose from their convenience store in Northeast San Antonio.

The Conoco food mart at 14330 Nacogdoches Road had been torched by a man Kabiruddin and Mumtaz Ismail didn’t know, but whom police said acted out of bias toward them. Their store was one of five targeted by arson or vandalism between 2003 and 2004 whose operators were of foreign descent, according to San Antonio police and arson investigators.

Kabiruddin and his wife, Mumtaz, have lived in San Antonio for more than 25 years and are now U.S. citizens. But to the arsonist, what mattered was that the two are Muslim and originally from Pakistan. That’s why the fire – set at about 3 a.m. April 9, 2004 – was classified as a hate crime and the man who pleaded guilty to setting it, 35-year-old Thomas C. Carroll, was sent to prison for 30 years.

That outcome was unusual, however.

Fourteen years after Texas passed its own hate crimes law, prosecutions remain few – eight in the past six years. The state did not keep track of hate crime prosecutions before 2001, but a report issued in 2000 by the Human Rights Commission, a national civil-rights group, said the Texas hate crime law had only been used “a couple of times” since it was first enacted in 1993. . .

Sarwat Husain, president of the San Antonio chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said others won’t come forward because they are afraid of a backlash.

“The fear factor is high in the community,” Husain said. Hate crime “is under-reported.”


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