CAIR-Chicago Disappointed in Hearing on Hate Crimes and White Nationalism

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CAIR-Chicago Disappointed in Hearing on Hate Crimes and White Nationalism

(Chicago, IL 4/9/2019) -- The Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago), expressed disapproval of the execution of the United States Congress House Judiciary Committee's hearing on hate crimes and white nationalism. Rather than focusing and combating the real threat of increasing hate crimes and white supremacy in the United States, the questions and testimonies presented constantly shifted focus to anti-Islamic, racist, and anti-immigrant sentiments.

Notably, Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, abused his time as an "expert witness" to either push foreign policy talking favoring Israel or to cast aspersions on Muslim victims of rising White Supremacy. At one point, he confronted Dr. Mohammad Abu-Salha--who lost his two daughters and his son-in-law in hate crime violence--and said: "We really need to have Muslims step up...We have to talk about Muslim anti-Semitism...God forbid that this is translated to physical violence even worse than we're seeing today."

Dr. Abu-Salha, who was an expert witness on hate crimes on Muslim Americans, responded: "I find it troubling that Mr. Klein turned this conversation into almost an Islamophobic conversation. When I'm talking about my tragedy and my loss, he came to me again on that." Dr. Abu-Salha also had to repeatedly defend his faith to members of Congress and their misinformed questions.

This hearing came not long after the FBI published its 2017 hate crimes report. It shows a 17 percent increase in reported hate crimes. Of the more than 7,100 hate crimes reported last year, nearly three out of five were motivated by race and ethnicity. Hate crimes motivated by anti-religious bias increased by 23 percent. Jewish and Muslim individuals were the victims of 58.1 percent and 18.7 percent of religiously motivated hate crimes, respectively. 

2018 saw a surge in hate groups in the United States, with White Supremacy groups growing by 50%, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. White Supremacists groups in the United States and Canada killed at least 40 people last year. From September 12, 2001 to December 31, 2016, 62 of the 85 (74 percent) attacks in the U.S. by violent extremists were committed by far-right violent extremists (U.S Extremist Crime Database, Univ. of Maryland).

There were some positive points in the hearing, however. Kristen Clarke, President of the National Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, pushed against the fuel for hate within the current administration:

"Whether you're talking about the Muslim Ban; whether you're talking about separation of brown children from their parents at the border; whether you're talking about the assault being waged on affirmative action by this justice department. We're seeing the dehumanization of African-Americans and Muslims, and other communities of color."

"A congressional hearing on White nationalism and its effects in Western society including the alarming rise in hate crimes against minorities is long overdue. And yet when it finally happens, the difficulty of the conversation on Islamophobia in this country is underscored with both so-called expert witnesses and committee members shifting their ire from the perpetrators of White nationalist hate crimes to Islam and Muslims at large via a completely uncalled for line of questioning," said CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab.

CAIR-Chicago is the Chicago Chapter of America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Our mission is to defend civil rights, fight bigotry, and promote tolerance.

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CONTACT: CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab, 202-870-0166, arehab@cair.comCAIR-Chicago Communications Coordinator Saadia Pervaiz, 312-212-1520, spervaiz@cair.comCAIR-Chicago Communications Coordinator Asha Binbek, 312-212-1520,