(WASHINGTON, D.C., 9/24/15) â€“ The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nationâ€™s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today called on state and federal law enforcement authorities to consider bringing hate crime charges against a man arrested after allegedly threatening Muslim worshipers this morning at an prayer service in Ohio.
According to police, a man threatened worshipers gathered for the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha at the Islamic Center of Cleveland in Parma, Ohio. The man reportedly called the worshipers â€œterroristsâ€ and reached for something in his car. Police later discovered he had a hatchet under his car seat. The suspect is in custody and is expected to appear in court on Friday.
“We believe this type of incident is the result of the toxic anti-Muslim atmosphere created by those in our society who seek to demonize Islam and to target American Muslims with hate rhetoric,” said CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper. â€œWe urge state and federal law enforcement authorities to treat this case with the seriousness it deserves and to consider bringing appropriate hate crime charges against the alleged perpetrator.â€
He applauded the swift action of mosque officials and local police in working together to apprehend the suspect.
Hooper cited recent Islamophobic incidents such as a man shouting anti-Islam slurs in Ohio while tearing pages from a copy of the Quran, a state representative in Colorado comparing Islam to Satanism and an Arizona anti-Islam activist threatening to â€œarrestâ€ a Michigan senator.
Those incidents came as Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ben Carson ignored or promoted anti-Muslim hatred.
In August, CAIR released a new brief, called “Toxic Hate,” indicating that rhetorical attacks on the nation's Muslim community in the past year have a “more violent tone” than past spikes in Islamophobic sentiment.
The CAIR brief also outlined incidents of violence and threats targeting individual Muslims, threats against groups of Muslims and threats and violence targeting Islamic houses of worship and institutions. It also includes a section on the recent phenomenon of armed anti-Islam demonstrations.
The Washington-based Muslim civil rights organization recently called for similar investigations of vandalism and hate targeting mosques in Kentucky, Virginia, Nebraska, Tennessee, New York, and other states.
Those incidents fit a pattern of increased hate-motivated crimes and bias incidents nationwide targeting persons and property associated, or perceived to be associated, with Islam and the American Muslim community.
CAIR is urging community leaders to obtain and implement safety measures outlined in its booklet, “Best Practices for Mosque and Community Safety.” The booklet may be requested through CAIR's website: http://www.cair.com/mosque-safety-guide.htmlÂ Â Â Â Â Â
CAIR also asks Muslim 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/civil-rights/report-an-incident/view/form.htmlÂ Â 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:Â CAIR-Cleveland Executive Director Julia Shearson, 216.440.2247, 216.830.2247,Â email@example.com; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202.744.7726