CAIR-Chicago Litigation Director Kevin Vodak presented the “Hate Crime and Bias Awareness” conference on September 15th, 2011 to discuss the ways in which law enforcement agencies can improve their procedures and techniques in addressing hate crimes.
“Islamophobia is the last form of racism that is tolerated in mainstream America,” said Amina Sharif, CAIR-Chicago’s Communications Coordinator. “You won’t see Fox News go out of its way to defend anti-black or anti-Semitic comments but they went out of their way to defend an Islamophobic statement.”
CAIR-Chicago Civil Rights Director Christina Abraham, who attended the hearing with Amal Abusumayyah, said afterward, “We are hopeful that this sent a message to the public that sort of behavior will not be tolerated by a fair and just society.”
CAIR-Chicago announced today that it is pleased with the plea agreement reached yesterday between state prosecutors and Valerie Kenney, a suburban woman who faced hate crime charges after attacking a Muslim woman at a Tinley Park grocery store 2 days after the Fort Hood shooting.
“It gives her an opportunity to learn from her mistake,” said Christina Abraham of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “And we think this does send a message to the greater community that hate crimes are not going to be tolerated and that this sort of behavior is wrong.”
An official with the Chicago-based Council on American-Islamic Relations, which became involved in the case, said the backlash against Muslim-Americans had spiked somewhat in the days immediately following the Fort Hood shooting but has subsided.
“We try to rally community support for (victims and their families) and to make sure the state’s attorney is pursuing the case with the utmost importance,” said spokeswoman Christina Abraham.
“Hate crimes are their own class of crime for a very good reason: The enhanced classification and punishment deters people from criminally acting out on their bigotry. It is the government’s obligation to its citizens to take a no-tolerance position on such crimes,” writes Ahmed Rehab.
“Ironically, if those who are viscerally opposed to the sight of a hijabi actually took the time to look at the facts of her life, they may realize that hijabis make for a positive stereotype worthy of their admiration rather than a negative one they ought to fear,” writes Ahmed Rehab.
“More Muslim women like Abusumayah need to speak up,” said Amina Sharif. “If you keep quiet, the bigotry will only continue.”
“Usually after incidents like Fort Hood, there tends to be a spike in hate crimes,” said Christina Abraham. “Current events cause people to act out in bigotry.”
“I think (a charge of hate crime) sends the appropriate message that these kinds of race-based lash-outs are unacceptable,” said Ahmed Rehab, executive director of the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “Every time something like (the Fort Hood shootings) happens, the Muslim community prepares for a backlash.”