Politics

Hillary Clinton Shares Letter About Murder Victim

On Friday, Hillary Clinton shared a powerful Facebook post authored by the family of 37-year old Khalid Jabara, a Lebanese American man who was murdered by his neighbor the previous week.

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"An attack like this is an attack on all of us, and we must come together to ensure that no other family loses a beloved son or daughter because of prejudice and bigotry," Clinton wrote.

Victoria Jabara Williams, who penned the post shared by Clinton, said the man who killed her brother subjected their family — who are Christian, Slate reports — to racist, Islamophobic abuse for years leading up to Jabara's murder last Friday.

The alleged perpetrator was arrested for running over Jabara and Williams' mother with a car months earlier, "resulting in a broken shoulder, collapsed lung, broken ankle, broken nose, head trauma, and fractured ribs amongst other injuries," Williams wrote.

Yet he was not charged with a hate crime, and was released on bail without an ankle monitor to await trial.

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"Our brother’s death could have been prevented," Williams wrote. "This man was a known danger. He intentionally tried to kill our mother less than one year ago when he ran her over with his car. Based on his racist comments towards us, he should have been charged with a hate crime then."

"Yet he was released and put back next door to us, the family he assaulted just months before," she continued. "This is troubling at any time, but profoundly disturbing given the current climate of our country and the increase nationally in cases of hate crimes."

An FBI report released in November 2015 found that anti-Muslim hate crimes rose in 2014 even though there was a drop in overall hate-crimes, the International Business Times reports.

Anti-Muslim hate crimes have also surged dramatically after numerous major terror attacks in North America and Europe, the report adds.

“The mainstreaming of Islamophobia by a number of our nation’s political and religious leaders has encouraged the latest hate-filled actions of anti-Muslim bigots,” CAIR communications director Ibrahim Hooper told the IB Times in a 2015 statement. “Now is the time for those leaders who are concerned about traditional American values of religious inclusion and tolerance to speak out against Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hate crime.”

Some victims of these crimes, like Jabara, are not even Muslim, but simply assumed to be due to their ethnic backgrounds and xenophobic stereotypes.

It is difficult to prove a crime was motivated by racial bias, the Washington Post explains. But it can be particularly challenging when it comes to anti-Muslim violence.

From the Post:

"One significant hurdle is simply getting hate crimes against Muslims reported to authorities. FBI statistics show that about 160 Muslims were victimized in hate crimes each year between 2011 and 2013. This number is a result of significant underreporting. American Muslims experience prejudice far more often than they report to authorities. When asked anonymously in a 2011 Pew poll if they had been threatened or attacked in the past year, 6 percent of Muslims said they had. Given that the Muslim population was 2.6 million in 2010, responses to the Pew poll suggest that about 156,000 Muslims were victims of hate crimes. The Justice Department notes that two out of every three hate crimes are not reported because victims believe that police cannot or will not help. This is especially true for Muslims, who have been targets of massive surveillance, deportation, questioning and other harassment by local and federal law enforcement during the past 14 years. That excessive scrutiny has eroded the trust necessary for victims to report hate crimes."

Georgetown University surveys conducted in 2006 and 2007 found that Americans consider Muslims more violent and less trustworthy than whites, blacks, Asians, or Hispanics. To this point, juries may be less sympathetic to Muslims than other crime victims.

"In some cases, prosecutors refrain from labeling certain hate-motivated crimes as hate crimes because it would require increased burden of proof in court and could risk losing the entire case," CAIR-LA Executive Director Hussam Ayoulsh explained in an email to ATTN:. "In other cases, prosecutors might themselves be biased and lack the interest in pursuing cases in which the victims belong to “unpopular” groups."

He also addressed the significance of Clinton sharing the story:

"At a time when the angry rhetoric of Donald Trump and some other political leaders normalize hatred and bigotry against minorities, especially Muslims, in our country, it is very important for other politicians to show leadership by countering that divisive and demeaning rhetoric. Hate talk left unchallenged leads to fear and eventually to bullying, discrimination, and violence against victimized groups. It is commendable that Hillary Clinton is helping raise awareness, not just about the horrendous murder of Khalid, but of all hate-motivated crimes. Hate and violence should never be normalized in any society."

In December 2015, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced that the Department of Justice was cracking down on Islamophobic hate speech at a Virginia event hosted by the legal advocacy group Muslim Advocates.

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“Obviously this is a country that is based on free speech,” Lynch said, according to ABC News. “But when that edges towards violence…we will take action.”

She explained how hate speech can incite actual violence.

“When you feel that fear, that sense of lack of control, and the inability to do something about it, you start to spin and try to find ways that you think will be the easy fix…anti-Muslim rhetoric becomes that path,” said Lynch. “We also will not give into fear.”

You can read Clinton's and Williams' full posts below and on Facebook.

 

 

This post, first published at 3:18 p.m. PST was updated at 4:40 p.m. PST to include comments from CAIR-LA Executive Director Hussam Ayoulsh.