(CLEVELAND, OHIO, 7/7/2008) – The Cleveland chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Cleveland) today welcomed an arrest in the shooting of an Ohio Muslim who was critically wounded.
On June 20, a Muslim business owner was shot in the abdomen while pumping gas after work in Cleveland. Just prior to the shooting, the man and his son were allegedly taunted by a group of men after they heard the father and son speak to each other in their native Uzbek language and heard the father utter an Islamic prayer in Arabic. The group of men reportedly imitated the languages in a mocking manner. The shooting was caught on a surveillance camera.
Police have now charged William “Happy” Neal in the shooting. The FBI is investigating the possibility that the shooting could be a hate crime.
SEE: Man Charged in Shooting at Cleveland Gas Station (Plain Dealer)
SEE: Video – Businessman Shot While Pumping Gas Caught on Tape (Fox 8)
“We appreciate the swift and concerted action of the Cleveland Police, the FBI and city officials in making this arrest,” said CAIR-Cleveland Executive Director Julia Shearson. “We trust the investigation will continue, and that this case will be prosecuted vigorously.”
Other similar incidents have targeted Muslim individuals and institutions nationwide.
In April, CAIR sought hate crime charges against the alleged perpetrator of a March “Molotov cocktail” attack on a Kansas Muslim.
SEE: Molotov Cocktail Hurled At Gas Station (KCTV)
That same month, CAIR’s Minnesota chapter asked the FBI to investigate reported threats against the Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy charter school in that state as possible hate crimes.
SEE: Muslim Civil Liberties Group Seeks FBI Probe of School Threats (Star Tribune)
The Kansas assault and the threats to the Minnesota school came following other recent incidents such as a fire-bomb attack on a Minnesota Muslim-owned business and an arson attack on a Tennessee mosque by three members of the white-supremacist “Christian Identity” movement.
SEE: MN: Investigators Say Fire Could Be Hate Crime
SEE ALSO: CAIR Applauds Arrests in TN Mosque Arson
CAIR is urging Muslims nationwide to review security procedures using advice contained in CAIR’s “Muslim Community Safety Kit.”
CAIR, America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 35 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. 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-Cleveland Executive Director Julia Shearson, 216-830-2247, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail: email@example.com; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org