(WASHINGTON, D.C., 10/25/17) — The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today called on law enforcement authorities in Tennessee to treat as a hate crime an incident in which a man allegedly harassed Muslim school girls, pulled a knife on their father and threatened to kill the entire family.
Christopher Beckham, 32, was charged with two counts of assault and one count of aggravated assault for allegedly harassing the Muslim girls when they got off a school bus in Nashville, Tenn.
The girls, who both wear Islamic head scarves (hijab), say Beckham told them to “go back to [their] country,” that they were “not welcome in America,” and said he was going to beat them up. When the girls’ father arrived at the scene, Beckham reportedly pulled a knife on him. After Beckham was arrested, he allegedly continued to make racist comments about the victims and threatened to kill the entire family when he gets out of jail. Beckham’s bond was set at $20,000. His first appearance in court is set for Thursday.
CAIR is calling on law enforcement authorities to revoke bond in the case because of the continued threat to the family.
“The allegations in this case clearly warrant consideration of a hate crime enhancement in the sentencing phase if the suspect is found guilty,” said CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper. “Because the suspect reportedly made threats to kill the entire family once he got out of jail, we urge that his bond be revoked and that he be held in custody.”
Tennessee law allows a judge to enhance a sentence if the defendant intentionally selected the victims because of their race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, disability or sexual orientation.
Earlier this week, CAIR welcomed a hate crime charge brought against a Delaware man after he allegedly threatened two neighbors, reportedly because he thought one of them was a Muslim.
Last week, CAIR released a quarterly civil rights report documenting 354 incidents of anti-Islam religious bias during the third quarter of 2017. CAIR documented a 9 percent rise in bias incidents in the first nine months of 2017 as compared to the same period in 2016.
CAIR said it has witnessed an unprecedented increase in hate incidents targeting American Muslims and members of other minority groups since the election of Donald Trump.
The Washington-based civil rights and advocacy organization urges community members to report any bias incidents to police and to CAIR’s Civil Rights Department at 202-742-6420 or by filing a report at: http://www.cair.com/report
CAIR recently launched an app to share critical “know your rights” information and to simplify the process to report hate crimes and bias incidents. CAIR is urging American Muslims and members of other minority groups to download the app and utilize this resource to stay informed and empowered.
For a quick download of CAIR’s civil rights app, click here: http://www.cair.com/app
CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
La misiÃ³n de CAIR es mejorar la comprensiÃ³n del Islam, fomentar el diÃ¡logo, proteger las libertades civiles, capacitar a los musulmanes estadounidenses, y construir coaliciones que promuevan la justicia y la comprensiÃ³n mutua.
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CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, firstname.lastname@example.org