A prominent national Islamic civil rights and
advocacy group today called on the New Jersey Department of Law and Public
Safety and the FBI to investigate an assault on a Muslim driver as a
possible hate crime.
The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) also
expressed concern that the police officer who investigated the assault
allegedly defended the assailant’s right to utter racial slurs.
CAIR says the Muslim driver, a U.S. citizen of Pakistani origin who lives
in Locust Valley, N.Y., was driving with his elderly mother on Wednesday
evening through Edison Township in New Jersey when he was attacked by a
white male in another car. The assailant allegedly followed the victim for
ten blocks before getting out of his vehicle and punching the Muslim driver
in the face while he was sitting in his car at a traffic light. When the
Muslim driver attempted to call 911 on his cell phone, the assailant
allegedly grabbed the phone and smashed it on the ground.
During the incident, the attacker reportedly called the victim a
“terrorist” and a “sand n*gger.” He also allegedly told the victim to “go
back to whatever f*cking Arab country you came from.” The Muslim victim
told CAIR that a police officer called to the scene of the attack was
reluctant to address the possible bias motive of the perpetrator and in
fact defended the assailants “free speech” rights.
“We are concerned that the officer on the scene apparently viewed the
racial slurs used during the assault as constitutionally-protected speech
and not as evidence that a hate crime had occurred,” said CAIR Civil Rights
Director Engy Abdelkader. She called for a probe of the police officer’s
Abdelkader said other incidents targeting Muslim individuals and Islamic
institutions have taken place recently across America.
Just this month, CAIR called on the FBI to investigate an intentionally-set
fire at a Muslim store in McAllen, Texas, as a possible hate crime and
sought felony charges in a bias attack on a New York Muslim taxi driver.
Late last month, two Muslim teenagers in Buffalo, N.Y., say they were
targeted by white teenagers who shouted ethnic slurs and then tried to hit
the girls with their car. A Muslim woman driver in Illinois and a Muslim
shopper in California were assaulted at the end of June by attackers
shouting anti-Muslim and racist slurs.
In Florida, vandals wrote “Kill all Muslims” inside the Islamic Community
Center in the Tampa suburb of Lutz. The FBI is also investigating vandalism
and threatening messages targeting the Islamic Community of Southwest
Florida in Charlotte Harbor. In Missouri, vandals painted a Nazi swastika
and the word “die” on an addition under construction at the Islamic
Foundation of Greater St. Louis. Three Miami Islamic centers were vandalized.
Earlier this year in Texas, a man was arrested for threatening an El Paso
Islamic center, an arson suspect was arrested at the scene of a fire at a
Muslim business in San Antonio and vandals scrawled racist graffiti on the
interior of a Lubbock mosque. A home-made bomb exploded in the mailbox of a
Houston, Texas, Islamic center.
In response to anti-Muslim incidents, CAIR published a “Muslim Community
Safety Kit.” The safety kit may be obtained free of charge by e-mailing
email@example.com. (Include name, address and phone number when requesting
the safety kit.)
CAIR, America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 28 regional
offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada.
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CONTACT: CAIR-NJ, 908-209-7440; CAIR-NY, 212-870-2002, 917-751-1017;
Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org;
Rabiah Ahmed, 202-488-8787 or 202-439-1441, E-Mail: email@example.com