CAIR-NJ: MUSLIMS FEEL BIAS BACKLASH AFTER FORT DIX ARRESTS
Raed Allan says he loves America.
"It's a country of freedom -- freedom of speech, freedom of religion, a chance to make a living," said the 34-year-old Jordanian-born gas station owner from Wayne, in Passaic County. The slight, soft-spoken father of four says "there're no negative things about this country -- except what happened."
On May 15, Allan and his mother were in Fairview, in Bergen County, picking up his aunt to take her to the airport. As they were loading the car about 8 p.m., a man walked up to them and began aggressively cursing them.
The man started pushing Allan, saying, "You Muslims are in this country to bomb us," Allan said. "You should all die. I want to kill all of you Muslims."
When Allan's 55-year-old aunt, Eida Abdel-Rahman, said she was going to call the police, the man turned around and "punched her in the face," Allan recalled.
A police officer in the area found Abdel-Rahman knocked down, her face bleeding. The alleged attacker, Peter John Ivanovich, 43, of Cliffside Park, was identified and arrested, said Fairview Deputy Police Chief Frank DelVecchio.
Ivanovich was charged with assault, bias intimidation, harassment and terroristic threats, DelVecchio said. Allan was stunned.
"We all love this country," he said. "I never believed a person would be hated for his religion."
In the weeks since news broke of an alleged plot to attack soldiers at Fort Dix, Muslim activists and community leaders have been hyper-vigilant for signs of an anti-Muslim backlash. Afsheen Shamsi of the New Jersey chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) said the watchdog group has had several reports of possible bias crimes resulting from misplaced anger.
"We do believe these attacks may have been prompted by the plot at Fort Dix," Shamsi said.