(WASHINGTON, DC, 7/27/16) â€“ The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nationâ€™s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today said it is â€œdisappointedâ€ that a man who allegedly attacked a Muslim woman driver in Tennessee earlier this year was only charged with a misdemeanor and was released on just $1500 bail.
In May, CAIR and the Tennessee â€“based American Muslim Advisory Council (AMAC) called on state and federal law enforcement authorities to investigate the attack, during which the suspect allegedly tried to run the Muslim driver (who wears an Islamic head scarf) off the road, as a possible hate crime. During the attack, the alleged assailant reportedly screamed â€œf**king terrorist,â€ â€œI will f**king kill youâ€ and other obscenities.
Michael Robinson, 52, of Murfreesboro, Tenn., was booked on Sunday by the Rutherford County Sheriff's Office on a misdemeanor charge of assault (Tenn. Code 39-13-101), and was released on $1500 bond. City of Murfreesboro police obtained a warrant for Robinsonâ€™s arrest after the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI declined to pursue the case. Robinson is scheduled to appear in court on August 9.
â€œWe are disappointed that an alleged hate attack on a Muslim woman has been treated as a misdemeanor and that the suspect in this troubling case was released on such low bail,â€ said CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper. â€œGiven the allegation of a bias motive, we ask that the charge in this case be upgraded to a felony and that any sentencing be enhanced to reflect the seriousness of the alleged crime.â€
Paul Galloway, executive director of AMAC, said: “Given the unprecedented levels of anti-Muslim rhetoric we are seeing in the 2016 elections; it is more important than ever that those charged with public safety send a clear message that targeting minority communities will not be tolerated. The failure to use legal enhancements in this instance sends the wrong message at this critical time. We pray that this sentencing decision does not embolden others to express their hate in illegal and threatening ways in the future.”
Tennessee law (40-35-114) allows for sentencing enhancement if the defendant â€œintentionally selected the person against whom the crime was committed or selected the property that was damaged or otherwise affected by the crime, in whole or in part, because of the defendant's belief or perception regarding the race, religion, color, disability, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, or gender of that person or the owner or occupant of that property.â€
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
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CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, firstname.lastname@example.org