(Tampa, FL, 12/10/15) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations – Florida (CAIR Florida) today assumed legal representation of two Muslim women victims of hate crimes in separate incidents. In the first incident, a hijab-wearing (scarf) Muslim woman in Hillsborough County was chased while driving her car. A man driving a car cut in front of her car while throwing rocks and other objects at her. At one point, he got out of his car and screamed and cursed at her. The victim felt even more threated when the individual stated yelling, “I'm gonna cut her!”
In a second incident in the Tampa area, another hijab-wearing Muslim woman's car was shot at while leaving an Islamic Center. Fearing for her life, she proceeded to report it to the authorities immediately.
CAIR Florida's Legal Department Director, Thania Diaz-Clevenger, stated that both cases are under investigation by various law enforcement agencies: “Our main concern right now is the safety and well-being of these victims. We urge our community to stand vigilant and report any type of safety and security incidents to the authorities immediately.” At present, both incidents are under investigation and the identity of the victims and further details are being withheld to protect the integrity and safety of the victims as well as the integrity of the criminal investigation.
Hassan Shibly, CAIR Florida's Chief Executive Director, attributed the unsafe climate in the Muslim community to the inflammatory Islamophobic rhetoric of some political leaders that render our community unsafe. To quote Mr. Shibly: “Our society expects more from our political leadership, not the provocative and incendiary discourse bashing Muslims and everyone else who stands for our cherished values of freedom and justice consecrated in our Constitution. Let it be known that Bigotry and hate speech are very dangerous and often result in hate crimes against our women and children.”
CAIR Florida provides active safety training programs upon request for Florida's Islamic Centers, schools, organizations, and other religious denominations. In addition, CAIR Florida offers a free publication, “Best Practices for Mosque and Community Safety,” to leaders of all faiths. The booklet, which was published in response to previous attacks on American Muslim institutions, contains safety information applicable to any institution and may be requested through CAIR's website: www.cair.com/mosque-safety-guide.html
CAIR Florida is the state's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties of all people, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
CAIR-Florida Chief Executive Director, Hassan Shibly, firstname.lastname@example.org, 813-541-4321
CAIR-Florida Regional Operations Director, Nezar Hamze, email@example.com, 954.673.9459
CAIR-Florida Legal Department Director, Thania Diaz-Clevenger, firstname.lastname@example.org, 813-514-1414