(HOUSTON, TEXAS, 6/22/17) — The Texas office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Texas) today welcomed a hate crime charge brought against a man suspected of setting fire to the Islamic Center of Victoria in Victoria, Texas, in January.
Federal officials today charged Marq Perez with a hate crime for damaging religious property, one count of using fire to commit a federal felony and another count for possession of an unregistered destructive device. He could face up to 40 years in prison and up to $750,000 in fines.
At the time of his arrest earlier this year, Perez was described as a “right-wing extremist.” A prosecutor noted that Perez, who claimed that members of the mosque are “terrorists,” may have targeted multiple mosques based on his social media comment: “Can you pinpoint any mosques that a team can get clear to?”
“We welcome the hate crime charge brought against the alleged arsonist and hope it sends a strong message to anyone contemplating attacking a house of worship,” said CAIR-Houston Executive Director Mustafaa Carroll. “We thank state and federal law enforcement authorities for their diligence in investigating and prosecuting this case.”
He added: “The fact that the alleged arsonist made a statement asking, ”˜Can you pinpoint any mosques that a team can get clear to?’ demonstrates the need for tighter security measures at mosques and Islamic gatherings.”
Carroll said CAIR is asking American Muslims and Islamic institutions to take extra security precautions – particularly at end-of-Ramadan activities — and is offering Muslim community leaders free copies of its booklet, “Best Practices for Mosque and Community Safety.”
A hard copy of the booklet may be requested through CAIR’s website at: http://www.cair.com/mosque-safety-guide.html
It may also be viewed at: http://www.cair.com/CAIR_Mosque_Safety_Guide.pdf
Earlier this week, CAIR called on Muslim communities nationwide to step up security measures for end-of-Ramadan activities following a terror attack on Muslims outside a mosque in London, the murder of a Muslim teen near a Virginia mosque and the murder of two men who defended a Muslim being harassed in Oregon.
Since the beginning of the year, CAIR has called for investigations of possible bias motives for dozens of other incidents targeting mosques in Colorado, Florida, Ohio, Iowa, Kentucky, Georgia, Arizona, Virginia, New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Texas, and a number of other states. By comparison, in the January-March period in 2016, CAIR recorded 19 such incidents.
CAIR recently released a report showing a 57 percent increase in anti-Muslim incidents in 2016 over the previous year. This spike in anti-Muslim incidents was accompanied by a 44 percent increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes during the same period.
The Washington-based civil rights and advocacy organization urges 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/report
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.
La misiÃ³n de CAIR es mejorar la comprensiÃ³n del Islam, fomentar el diÃ¡logo, proteger las libertades civiles, capacitar a los musulmanes estadounidenses, y construir coaliciones que promuevan la justicia y la comprensiÃ³n mutua.
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CONTACT: CAIR-San Antonio President Sarwat Husain, 210-378-9528, email@example.com; CAIR-Houston Executive Director Mustafaa Carroll, 832-549-1042, firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR-Houston Communications Coordinator Ruth Nasrullah, email@example.com; CAIR-DFW Executive Director Alia Salem, 817-538-8269, firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR-Austin, 512-640-9421; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, email@example.com