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Press Release

Community Hosts U.S. Attorney Ortiz and Convenes Civil Rights Panel to Combat Backlash Against Muslim, Arab, Sikh and South Asian Americans

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Massachusetts

BOSTON – Leaders from Muslim and other communities invited United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz to lead a civil rights dialogue Friday evening at a mosque in Wayland.  Community members and local, state and federal government officials gathered to address discrimination and affirm the Justice Department’s commitment to protecting civil rights.

 “In recent weeks, the values of our democratic society have been compromised as  Muslim, Arab, Sikh and South Asian Americans, and those perceived to be, have suffered from harassment and violence,” said U.S. Attorney Ortiz.  “For many years, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, has engaged in open and honest dialogue with leaders and members of Massachusetts’ diverse communities, and we value each other’s role in making sure that the Commonwealth is a safe and accepting home for people of all faiths.” 

During the last several months, individuals who are, or who are perceived to be, Muslim, Arab, Sikh and South Asian have been targeted for discrimination, harassment and violence around the country.  Yesterday’s civil rights program provided an opportunity for members of the Muslim community and law enforcement in Massachusetts to support each other during this time of increasing apprehension, to share concerns related to this climate, and to discuss potential resources for those impacted by it.  The dialogue was one of 14 events taking place this week in 11 districts across the country, including California, Connecticut, Minnesota and New Jersey.  The events are designed to build on the Justice Department’s prosecutorial work in countering anti-Muslim backlash, as well as its outreach efforts, including the new interagency initiative to combat religious discrimination.

Since September 11th, the Department of Justice has investigated over 1,000 incidents involving acts of violence, threats, assaults, vandalisms and arsons targeting Arab, Muslim, Sikh and South Asians, and those perceived to be members of these groups.  The Civil Rights Division and U.S Attorneys’ offices have brought prosecutions against more than 60 defendants in such cases, with 57 convictions to date. 

For more information, visit the Department of Justice website and follow #standuptobacklash on Twitter for coverage of events across the country.

Updated April 18, 2016