(NEW YORK, NY, 9/30/16) – The New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY) is welcoming increased hate crime charges against Emirjeta Xhelili for attacking two Brooklyn Muslim women pushing babies in strollers.
Xhelili was arraigned Wednesday on a dozen charges stemming from the September 8 incident, in which she allegedly punched and kicked the Muslim women and tried to pull off their Islamic head scarves, or hijabs. The charges against Xhelili include assault in the first degree as a hate crime, which carries a sentence of up to 25 years in prison.
[NOTE: The initial charge in the case was only assault in the third degree.]
According to police, Xhelili allegedly shouted Islamophobic insults as she assaulted the victims. Xhelili reportedly shouted, "Get the f--- out of America, b-----s," as she punched one of the Muslim women in the face and kicked them both in their legs.
SEE: 2 Muslim women, babies attacked in alleged hate crime in New York
"We welcome this indictment, and we expect the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office to continue to prosecute this horrific attack vigorously," said CAIR-NY Executive Director Afaf Nasher. "In the current climate, it's essential that potential attackers know that they will be swiftly caught and prosecuted if they attempt to target any minority community."
Nasher noted a spike in anti-Muslim incidents in recent months, which the civil rights group attributes at least in part to Islamophobic rhetoric used by public figures.
Last month, CAIR's Oklahoma chapter welcomed the district attorney's addition of hate crime charges against Stanley Vernon Majors for allegedly fatally shooting his next door neighbor, 37-year-old Khalid Jabara, on August 12. The Jabara family reported multiple incidents of harassment, threats ,and other attacks on their ethnicity and perceived religion, including calling them "Dirty Arabs," "filthy Lebanese," "Aye-rabs," and "Moos-lems."
SEE: CAIR-OK Welcomes Hate Crime Charges in Khalid Jabara Shooting
She further noted that CAIR recently reported that 2016 is on track to be one of the worst years ever for anti-mosque incidents, with a total of 55 cases recorded as of mid-September. Last year there were a total of 79 recorded anti-mosque cases.
The majority of the 2016 incidents have been violent in tone, characterized by intimidation, physical assault and property damage, destruction or vandalism.
Officials with the Islamic Center of Northland in Kansas City, Mo., recently said they discovered burns on the interior of the mosque Saturday morning when they arrived for a meeting. Kansas City police report finding two burned bottles inside the mosque site.
In the first two weeks of September, three other mosques were targeted. The most destructive of these was in Florida, where a mosque was intentionally set ablaze and a suspect arrested.
The Washington-based Muslim civil rights group is asking Muslim community members to report any bias incidents to police and to CAIR's Civil Rights Department at 202-742-6420 or by filing a report at: https://www.cair.com/civil-rights/report-an-incident/view/form.html
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
La misión de CAIR es mejorar la comprensión del Islam, fomentar el diálogo, proteger las libertades civiles, capacitar a los musulmanes estadounidenses, y construir coaliciones que promuevan la justicia y la comprensión mutua.
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CONTACT: CAIR-NY Executive Director Afaf Nasher, 917-669-4006, firstname.lastname@example.org; Director of Strategic Litigation Albert Cahn, 571-766-6273,email@example.com,CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, firstname.lastname@example.org.