IRAQI-AMERICAN STABBED IN FLORIDA
- TOWN HALL FOCUSES ON HATE-CRIME PREVENTION
Diane Reed, Orange County Register, 5/30/03
ANAHEIM HILLS - Rashid Alam and Greg Harris experienced different
things but learned the same lesson - love and forgiveness.
Alam and Harris, victims of a racially motivated beating and a cross-
burning, respectively, told a crowd of about 65 people at a community
forum Thursday night about the support they received in the aftermath
of the crimes against them.
"I do not hate the people who did this to me," said Alam, a Muslim
teenager from Yorba Linda who was attacked at a park Feb. 23. "While
I lay in my bed, I received many letters and cards from people I
didn't even know. I realized that not all Americans are like this.
Now I love America, and I hate the word 'hate.'"
The forum was presented by the Orange County Human Relations
Commission and the Council on American-Islamic Relations to develop
hate-crime prevention strategies and to let the community know the
consequences of such crimes....
Alam and Harris both gave messages of hope to the crowd.
"I heard from people I hadn't seen since high school," said Harris, a
black man who woke up March 18 to find a 10-foot cross burning at his
Anaheim Hills home. Neighbors and strangers responded by leaving
flowers on his porch and sending messages of support.
"What happened afterward shows that Americans will no longer tolerate
(racism)," Harris said.
IRAQI-AMERICAN STABBED IN FLORIDA
Incident part of trend towards violence against Muslims
(Miami, FL, 5/30/03) - Florida's office of the Washington-based
Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-FL) expressed concern
over the rising tide of violent hate crimes being directed against
Muslims in Florida.
A Florida man has been charged under that state's hate crime statute
after allegedly stabbing an Iraqi-American in Sunrise, Fla.
Officials with the Sunrise Police Department say Christopher Coward,
27, allegedly pulled up in front of Essam Alsayaf Wednesday afternoon
as he changed a tire at a gas station. According to the victim and
witnesses, Coward pulled out a 7 or 8-inch knife, called Alsayaf
an "Iraqi terrorist" and stabbed him in the biceps.
Coward's statements during the incident lead to him being charged
with aggravated and simple battery under the hate crime statute,
which enhances the penalty for any conviction. Alsayaf did not
require medical attention.
"At a time when hate crimes in general are down, the number of hate
crimes against American-Muslims are ominously increasing," said Altaf
Ali, Executive Director, CAIR-FL.
"Our office is receiving calls almost every day from ordinary
American-Muslims who find themselves the victims of hate crimes,
racial epithets and discrimination. We urge our elected
representatives to make strong public appeals about tolerance and
respect while law enforcement needs to send an unambiguous signal
that all acts of racial intolerance will not be tolerated and be
prosecuted to the fullest extent under the law," added Ali.
On February 22, 2003 Nasseer Idrisi, an Iraqi American professor
profiled in The Miami Herald a week earlier, was severely beaten by
employees of Beach Towing.
The Miami Herald reported that police spokesman Bobby Hernandez
said, "Idrisi was definitely the victim. He was beaten and didn't
fight." The Manger of the towing company is reported to have
said, "They say he was cursing in Arabic. He's from over there."
"Miami Beach police did not classify this beating as a hate crime
although it is quite clear that Mr. Idrisi's foreign language lead to
his severe beating," added Ali.
CAIR-FL is encouraging victims of hate crimes to fill out report
forms, which are available for download at:
https://www.readysecure2.com/users/cair-floridaorg/ireport/, or by
calling 954- 916-5661.
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