(HARRISBURG, PA, 10/13/2023) – The Philadelphia chapter of Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Philadelphia), a chapter of the nation’s leading Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today urged state and federal law enforcement agencies to charge a white male with hate crimes and ethnic intimidation for an allegedly racially-motivated brandishing of a pistol against Muslims protesting Israel’s indiscriminate bombing of Gaza at the footsteps of the Pennsylvania State Capitol.
Earlier today, more than 300 members of the community gathered in response to the Central Pennsylvania Committee of Masajid (CPCOM) sponsored “Rally for Palestine” protest and march. An individual in a car reportedly started yelling racial slurs before “pulling a gun out and pointing it at the crowd.” A suspect was taken into custody.
“This incident points out that the ongoing dehumanization of Palestinians by Pennsylvania politicians has real life consequences,” said CAIR-Philadelphia Executive Director Ahmet Tekelioglu. “We call on the attorney general’s office, local police and federal officials to bring the individual allegedly responsible to full justice. No American should face such hate, this is a frightening scenario that we cannot tolerate.”
Tekelioglu also noted that Pennsylvania state law has the Ethnic Intimidation Act which was passed to prosecute individuals who commit acts such as in this case as well as to act as a deterrent to individuals that desire to weaponize racial and religious animus.
Protest organizer and Palestinian-American community member Omar Mussa said:
“We are taken back as a community. To be targeted and have so many of our community members, including many young children, lives in danger – threatened at gun point is devastating. This bigotry and hatred on the steps of our capitol must be called out by our elected officials. The necessary actions must be taken to protect our communities in PA from Anti-Arab and Islamophobic hate crimes. This is something we cannot forget, something we will not forget and something we cannot allow to happen again. We will work within our community to heal through love.”
Jasmine Jasmin Osojkic, President of The Bosnia & Herzegovina Islamic Center of Pennsylvania and CPCOM Board member said:
“In regard to today’s unfortunate gun brandishing, in which a passerby in a vehicle chose to stop in front of a peaceful rally and engage members of the rally with hateful and violent rhetoric, CPCOM stands with CAIR in condemning the actions of this individual and calls upon law enforcement to prosecute this individual to fullest extent of the law. CPCOM chooses to combat evil and hate with good and love. We welcome all community members to reach out if they have any questions about the plight of the Palestinian people or wish to work together to find peaceful solutions to any of the problems that plague our communities.”
CAIR’s mission is to protect civil rights, enhance understanding of Islam, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.
La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.
CONTACT: CAIR-Philadelphia Executive Director, Ahmet Tekelioglu, PhD, firstname.lastname@example.org; 617-401-5397