April 10, 2015
Honor the Legacies of Those We Have Lost
We are inspired by the resilience of our communities. The past few months have been hard for many communities around the country facing anti-Muslim bigotry and hate. As staff attorney Madihha Ahussain has traveled the country for our Program to Counter Anti-Muslim Hate, she has talked to families and neighbors coming together to support each other in the midst of tragedy.
Being stronger together is the only way we can counter anti-Muslim hate and honor the legacies of those we have lost to senseless violence.
We’ve seen a growing climate of fear and hate. In Charlotte, North Carolina, weeks after three bright young people were killed in Chapel Hill, an American Muslim woman was injured when 18 shots were fired into her family’s home while they were sleeping. The authorities have not classified the incident as a hate crime, citing lack of information. A recent Muslim immigrant was shot in Dallas, Texas while watching his first snowfall. The murder followed a wave of anti-Muslim bigotry in the state. Dallas police have neither confirmed nor refuted that the incident was a hate crime.
Hate crimes are hard to prove. There are hurdles at every step in the legal process, from reporting the crime to conviction. Law enforcement is not currently doing enough to remove these obstacles.
Law enforcement—including the FBI and Justice Department—must ask questions and conduct investigations to determine whether hate played a role in these violent crimes.
We urge the media to do a better job as well. The media often allows key questions to go unanswered: Why have American Muslims been targeted? What are the real motivations for the crime? In both the recent incidents in North Carolina, the media will often prematurely state that a person’s faith or ethnicity may play a role in this type of violence. But we cannot ignore the environment in which these incidents are taking place in. We must ask tough questions and ensure that full investigations are conducted before we can characterize an incident as “random.”
That’s why Muslim Advocates is continuing to urge a full federal hate crime investigation into the Chapel Hill shootings, while pushing for local and federal law enforcement to make it easier to report hate crimes.
We all have a role to play to counter anti-Muslim bigotry. We’re asking for your help, too. Take a look at our state resources to help American Muslims and other victims report hate crimes to state and federal authorities. Anti-Muslim hate online is a growing problem, and we encourage you to take action to combat online hate.
We want to create a better world where every American can practice our faith freely and go about our daily lives, so that no one has to experience the pain and horror of losing a loved one to senseless violence.