Muslim civil rights group calls on Gov. Cuomo and state police to investigate threat as hate crime
(NEW YORK, N.Y., 8/22/19) – The New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY), the state’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today decried a decision by the Colonie Police Department not to charge a white male — identified as a high-ranking U.S. Army military official — after he allegedly made Islamophobic threats to kill a Muslim man at the Crossings of Colonie playground.
According to the Muslim family, Colonie police declined to press charges because the suspect’s threat directed at Rashad Mohamed Benantar was First Amendment protected speech. The white military official reportedly told Mr. Benantar that he “came here today to die. You are going to die.” Prior to the deadly threats, the man shouted Islamophobic, xenophobic and racist comments such as “your prophet is a dog” and “this is a Christian country” at Muslim children in the playground.
In a statement, CAIR-NY Litigation Director Ahmed Mohamed said:
“To characterize a deadly threat that is preceded by an Islamophobic and racist rant as First Amendment protected speech is ludicrous and dangerous. If any Muslim man walked up to a white family and shouted ”˜you came here today to die. You are going to die,’ that Muslim man would be locked up and the keys thrown away.
“We believe this suspect is being given a free pass because he is white and comes from a position of power as he is a high-ranking military official. The Colonie Police Department ought to be ashamed for putting the interest of a high-ranking military official over the safety and security of citizens it is supposed to protect.
“They have sent the message that Muslim lives do not matter. If any harm comes to this family, the blame lays at the feet of the Colonie Police Department. They are allowing a trained military officer to roam the streets after making deadly threats.
“The Colonie Police Department has abdicated its duty to enforce the law. We are calling on Governor Cuomo and New York State Police to step in and restore law and order before this suspect makes good on his deadly promise.”
Mohamed also called on law enforcement to provide the identity of the white male suspect to the public and the family. He noted that the family has no way of protecting themselves since they do not know the identity of the suspect.
In a statement, Rashad Mohamed Benantar said:
“My family and I were targeted because of our religion, and this white man whom I’m told is a highly ranked member of the U.S. Army threatened to kill me. It is shocking and disheartening to learn that Colonie Police believe that making deadly threats while spewing Islamophobic and racists rants is protected speech. We do not believe this was a fair and impartial investigation and believe this individual was given preferential treatment because of his military status. Our family is shaken and fearful of this man and what he is capable of. We thought Colonie Police were going to protect us. Despite the pain and fear, I am glad my family and I stood up to this racist. Our religion teaches us to fight for justice especially in the face of this kind of hate and bigotry. While law enforcement has let us down, we want to thank the public and our friends for the help, thoughts, and prayers during this difficult time.”
SEE BENANTAR’S FACEBOOK POST: https://www.facebook.com/IPMhmd
Individuals in New York are asked to report any bias incidents to police and to CAIR-NY at (646) 665-7599, or by filing a report at: http://www.cair-ny.org/incident-report/
CAIR’s mission is to protect civil rights, enhance understanding of Islam, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.
La misiÃ³n de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensiÃ³n del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.
CONTACT: CAIR-NY Litigation Director Ahmed Mohamed firstname.lastname@example.org; 646-481-2103