Acting U.S. Attorney Meets with Islamic Center Leadership to Highlight Continued Partnership to Combat Anti-Muslim Backlash
CINCINNATI – Acting U.S. Attorney Benjamin C. Glassman met this morning with members of the board of directors of the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati. The gathering is part of a continued effort to foster understanding and safety for Muslim American communities within the Southern District of Ohio.
Today’s meeting was one of 14 events in 11 federal judicial districts across the United States. The series of events around the country are addressing backlash against Muslim, Arab, Sikh and South Asian Americans following the tragic terrorist attacks in Brussels, Paris and San Bernardino, Calif. The events are also designed to build on both the Justice Department’s prosecutorial work in countering post-September 11th backlash, as well as its outreach efforts, including the new interagency initiative to combat religious discrimination throughout the country.
From April 12 through May 6, U.S. Attorneys in California, Colorado, Idaho, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Ohio and Utah will work with community leaders and law enforcement to address discrimination, violence and harassment targeting people because of what they look like, which country they come from or where they worship. The aim is to reaffirm the Department of Justice’s commitment to protecting civil rights and preventing and prosecuting hate crimes.
“Divisive rhetoric and religious intolerance directed toward Muslim Americans are wrong,” Acting U.S. Attorney Glassman said. “Just like every religious group, Muslim Americans should not be blamed for the criminal actions of a few individuals. Places like the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati serve our community by building bridges of understanding with other faith communities, providing education for young people, and enriching worship for many of our neighbors.”
“It was extremely important to have Mr. Glassman visit the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati today, as a positive relationship with law enforcement is a priority for the Center,” said Shakila T. Ahmad, President of the Board of Directors of the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati. “The hate rhetoric and rise in discrimination towards Muslim Americans is at such a high level that collaboration between the Muslim American community, the greater community and law enforcement is imperative for all Americans and our founding American values.”
Since Sept. 11, 2001, the Department of Justice has investigated more than 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 the U.S. Attorney’s Offices throughout the country have brought prosecutions against more than 60 defendants in such cases, with 57 convictions to date.
The Civil Rights Division is leading the interagency initiative to combat religious discrimination, which includes combatting illegal restrictions on religious properties like mosques.