MPAC, US ATTORNEY, FBI HOLD PRESS CONFERENCE ANNOUNCING INDICTMENT IN PHILLY HATE CRIME CASE
MPAC Cites ‘Rising Islamophobia’ as a Root Cause of Hate Crimes
(Washington, DC - 5/2/07)—Today, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, the U.S. Attorney for Eastern Pennsylvania, and the FBI Philadelphia Field Office held a press conference announcing the indictment of a local woman who sent a threatening message to a Muslim American woman last fall.
SEE: “Woman Accused of Hate Crime Against Arab-American Boss” (MyFox, 5/2/07)
SEE ALSO: “Threat to Boss Results in Charge” (Philadelphia Inquirer, 5/2/07)
Kia Reid is charged with sending a note threatening violence to the victim (who is identified in court documents as “N.T.”) because of her “race, color, religion and national origin”. MPAC Executive Director Salam Al-Marayati was joined by FBI Special Agent in Charge Brian Lynch, FBI Special Agent Frank Burton, and U.S. Attorney Prosecutor Jeffery Whitt.
SEE: Dept. of Justice Press Release on Kia Reid Indictment (5/1/07)
“This hate crime in Philadelphia is an illustration of the manifestations of hate that result from Islamophobia,” said Al-Marayati. “This hate-mongering is an exploitation of the fear and hysteria from 9/11.”
Furthermore, Al-Marayati recognized that “Our partnership with the FBI and with the Department of Justice, something we’ve worked on before 9/11, has helped to support more government engagement from Muslim Americans.”
FBI Special Agent in Charge Brian Lynch highlighted that over 500 hate crime investigations involving Arab, Muslim and Sikh victims have been initiated in the years following 9/11, resulting in more than 100 federal and local prosecutions, and yesterday’s indictment underscores the FBI’s commitment to protect all Americans, including Muslim Americans.
“Today’s announcement of the information filed charging Kia Reid with a hate crime signifies the FBI’s and the US Attorney’s Office commitment to investigating these types of violations and is a part of our broader mandate to protect the civil rights of all Americans,” said Lynch.
On October 2, 2006, the victim received a hand-delivered death threat in her personal mailbox that included threatening statements such as, “Remember 9/11: national tragedy. I do. You and your kids will pay” and “I strategically planned death”. MPAC contacted the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate it as a potential hate crime. The DOJ and FBI classified the case a “high priority”, and initiated an almost six month long investigation which culminated in the arrest of Kia Reid in March 2007. Reid appeared before a Grand Jury on March 16th, where “N.T.” also answered questions posed by the jury.
Other incidents recently reported to MPAC include:
A Muslim student who was taunted and assaulted in Palmdale, CA after a showing of the film “Not Without My Daughter.”
A university professor who told students, “Don’t talk to Muslims about religion. They turn into a different animal.”
A Muslim teacher who was told by his colleague, when he asked for a day off to observe a religious holiday, “I am sure they will give you the day off. They would be too afraid you would kill them if you didn’t get what you want.”
A church leader saying, “I believe Islam is a hate-filled and evil teaching and I have a responsibility to inform my congregation of this religion.”
Citing federal statistics, Al-Marayati pointed out that far more cases go unreported due to fear of the FBI and government in general, which is why direct engagement with government officials is necessary.
“In this case, the victim acquired the confidence in government as she interacted with law enforcement,” Al-Marayati said. “The only effective means of countering hate is more engagement with government and with community-based organizations.”
Founded in 1988, the Muslim Public Affairs Council is an American institution which informs and shapes public opinion and policy by serving as a trusted resource to decision makers in government, media and policy institutions. MPAC is also committed to developing leaders with the purpose of enhancing the political and civic participation of Muslim Americans.