May 19, 2021
Issue: Fighting Bigotry
Muslim Advocates, Qasim Rashid Sue Over Twitter Lynching Threats
WASHINGTON, DC — On Wednesday, Virginia politician, activist and author Qasim Rashid sued Joseph Cecil Vandevere for sending repeated threats to lynch and harm him. On March 13, 2018, Vandevere used Twitter to send Rashid a picture of a man who had been violently lynched and asked him to “VIEW YOUR DESTINY.” Vandevere also sent Rashid several other Twitter messages filled with anti-Muslim slurs and threats. These tweets have deeply shaken Rashid, made him fear for his and his family’s safety and have profoundly changed how he navigates public life. The lawsuit seeks money damages, attorneys’ fees and other relief. Muslim Advocates and Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP are representing Rashid.
Vandevere, a resident of North Carolina, is currently serving a 10-month sentence at Federal Correctional Institution, Loretto in Pennsylvania because of the threats. He will be released from prison on October 5, 2021. To date, Vandevere has never apologized or admitted any fault. Instead, he is appealing the conviction. Qasim Rashid was the Democratic nominee for Virginia’s 1st congressional district in 2020. He previously served as the national spokesperson for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA and just published the children’s book “Hannah and the Ramadan Gift.”
“Joseph Vandevere sent Qasim Rashid multiple hate-filled threats and a graphic image of Leo Frank, a Jewish man who was lynched in 1915 by an anti-Semitic mob,” said Muslim Advocates Senior Staff Attorney Matt Callahan. “Vandevere’s threats are outrageous and the emotional toll they have taken on Rashid is profound. Though Qasim’s life will never be the same, we are seeking at least a measure of restitution for the widespread harm that Vandevere has caused him and his family.”
“My cousin was lynched with a rope around his neck and dragged through the streets because he was an Ahmadi Muslim. So when Joseph Vandevere targeted me because of my faith and sent me a picture of a man hanged by a rope, I took it as a very real threat to me and my family,” said Qasim Rashid. “This country was founded on a commitment to religious liberty. Through this lawsuit, I hope to send the message that no one should be threatened with violence merely for practicing their faith. In a year when more than 6,600 instances of anti-Asian hate have been reported in this country, it is more important than ever that people of all communities stand up to this kind of targeted hate.”
Muslim Advocates is a national civil rights organization working in the courts, in the halls of power and in communities to halt bigotry in its tracks. We ensure that American Muslims have a seat at the table with expert representation so that all Americans may live free from hate and discrimination.