The following statement was written by MCHR Board Member Dr. Saeed Khan and was enthusiastically approved by the Board as our official stance on the recent increase in violent crimes against Arab and Muslim Americans:
Over the past several weeks, and especially over the past few days, there has been an unprecedented increase in crimes and attacks targeting Arab and Muslim Americans and their facilities based upon and motivated by their religious and ethnic affiliations.
On December 4, 2014, Abdisamad Sheikh-Hussein, a fifteen year old Somali American Muslim from Kansas City, Missouri was run over by an SUV that severed both his legs. He died of his injuries four days later. The vehicle had anti-Muslim messages written on it; authorities suspect that the incident was deliberate and that Sheikh-Hussein was deliberately targeted for being Muslim.
On February 2, an Arab Muslim American family was flying home from Ft. Lauderdale on Delta Airlines to Detroit, one of its national hub airports. As another passenger began to verbally abuse the young mother because of her headscarf, the flight attendant decided to “resolve” the issue by making the family move to the back of the plane, rather than rebuke or detain the abusive passenger.
On Tuesday, February 10, three Muslim American college students from Chapel Hill, North Carolina were shot while in their own home, execution-style in the back of their heads, allegedly by a neighbor who had a history of threatening them and who had exhibited hatred for religions and religious peoples. Despite efforts to claim the incident was a result of a parking dispute, compelling evidence suggests that the victims’ Muslim background was the key factor in precipitating their murder.
On Friday, February 13, an Arab American family was verbally and physically attacked in a Kroger supermarket in Dearborn. Witnesses have stated that the suspects, who fled the scene and are still at large, allegedly taunted the family with insults and threats pertaining to their Arab and Muslim heritage.
On Friday, February 10, a building under construction at an Islamic center in Houston, Texas, was set ablaze. Fire officials suspect that the fire was intentionally set with an accelerant, and have declared that it was arson. The fire comes days after a Dallas rally by Muslim Americans defending the Prophet Muhammad was countered with a virulent group of protesters invoking anti-Muslim slogans and threats, as well as similar protests against
Muslim Capitol Day, which was held in Austin on January 29. That same day (January 29), Texas State Representative Molly White posted on her social media account that she demands Muslim American visitors to her office must first renounce terrorism before she will meet with them. She further stated that she keeps an Israeli flag on her receptionist’s desk to notify Muslims of her beliefs and ideology.
Hundreds of social media posts calling for the killing of Arabs and Muslims have appeared since the release of American Sniper, nominated for an Academy Award for Best Motion Picture.
Therefore, MCHR calls for the condemnation of anti-Muslim and anti-Arab attacks by public officials and opinion makers. MCHR also calls for increased investigations and prosecutions for the designation of such attacks as hate crimes, especially as they involve the targeting of individuals and communities based upon their religious and ethno-racial identity.
MCHR is an interfaith non-profit organization founded in 1980 by Catholic Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, the late Rabbi Richard Hertz and the late Episcopal Bishop H. Coleman McGehee. MCHR promotes awareness of, commitment to, and advocacy for human rights through education, community organization, and action. MCHR opposes forces that suppress human dignity, freedom, and justice locally and around the world. MCHR also organizes and sponsors Freedom Tours that take high school students to civil rights sites in the south to educate them about our nation’s civil rights history and inspire them to be our future justice leaders.