(WASHINGTON, D.C., 4/30/20) – The Missouri chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Missouri), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today welcomed the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) decision to file federal arson charges against the man arrested for allegedly setting fire to the Cape Girardeau Islamic Center, and called on the department to also file federal hate crimes charges against the suspect.
Nicholas J. Proffitt, 42, of Cape Girardeau., Mo., was arrested and charged by the state of Missouri with burglary, arson and property damage for causing a fire at the Islamic Center in Cape Girardeau on the first night of the Islamic fast of Ramadan. The federal charges were announced on Wednesday. Proffitt is set to appear in federal court today.
SEE: Man Charged in Islamic Center Fire Set to Appear in Court
Man Faces Federal Arson Charges After Setting Missouri Islamic Center on Fire
“This man’s record shows that he has been a danger to the American Muslim community for well over a decade,” said Shafiq Malik, a senior board member of the Islamic Center of Cape Girardeau. “We hope and expect that both federal and state authorities will prosecute this alleged criminal to the full extent of the law.”
In a letter sent to US Attorney Jeffrey Jensen, CAIR Senior Litigation Attorney Gadeir Abbas explained that “a federal prosecution of Mr. Proffitt under the various hate crime statutes applicable to his crimes would send a clear message that the United States of America rejects the defendant’s bigotry.”
READ CAIR’S LETTER
“Unfortunately, hatred hasn’t stopped during this pandemic,” said CAIR-Missouri Board Chair Yasir Ali. “Local and federal law enforcement agencies were swift in catching the alleged perpetrator. They must now demonstrate a commitment to obtaining justice for the American Muslim community by charging him with a federal hate crime.”
CAIR recently reported a total of at least 506 attacks on mosques between 2014-2019.
In 2009, Proffitt was charged with first-degree property damage for throwing rocks at the same mosque and second-degree property damage for damaging a vehicle in the facility’s parking lot.
In 2005, Proffitt (known by a different name, Nicholas Stearns) was reportedly arrested for vandalizing a mosque in Dearborn, Mich.
CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.
La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.