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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MARCH 28, 2003
12:36 PM
CONTACT:  Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
Altaf Ali, 954-298-8214 or altaf(At)cair-florida.org;
Ahmed Bedier, 813-731-9506 or abedier(At)cair-florida.org;
Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or cair(At)cair-net.org;
Ms. Hodan Hassan, 202-488-8787 or hhassan(At)cair-net.org
Muslim Woman Harassed on Florida Highway Says CAIR;
Men in Van Shout 'Terrorist,' Throw Object at Car
 
MIAMI - March 28 - Florida's office of the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-FL) today called on Attorney General Charlie Crist to apply the full weight of the law to three men accused of harassing a Muslim woman.

The harassment allegedly occurred March 6 as the woman, who was wearing an Islamic head scarf, drove her car along a Pinellas County highway. According to the victim, a native of Guyana who is a U.S. citizen, the men repeatedly leaned out of their van's windows and shouted "terrorist" as the vehicle changed lanes several time in an intimidating manner. One of the perpetrators allegedly threw an object at the women's car. A juvenile was arrested and charged with "throwing a deadly missile into an occupied vehicle," (Case No. CRC0301979DL) but the driver and the other passenger were apparently not taken into custody.

"Without a strong statement from the attorney general's office, followed by equally strong action, we are concerned that such incidents will not be treated with the seriousness they deserve. It is time that all community leaders work to end hate crimes," said CAIR-FL Executive Director Altaf Ali.

A number of anti-Muslim incidents have been reported recently across the United States. CAIR attributes these incidents to pro-war rhetoric, coupled with existing levels of anti-Muslim bias in American society.

On Monday, an Indianapolis, Ind., Muslim suffered burns over 60 percent of his body in what may have been a bias-related attack. Last Saturday, an explosive device destroyed an Illinois Muslim family's van. In other Illinois incidents, an Evanston resident received a mailed death threat, a Glendale Heights Islamic center received a phoned bomb threat and projectiles were fired at a mosque in Villa Park.

In California, four Muslim women visiting a restaurant were verbally assaulted by another patron. Death threats were made against Muslim students at San Jose State University in Northern California. In Michigan, a Muslim father and son report that they were refused service at a store.

Physical assaults against Muslims have been reported in Northern California, Southern California, Georgia, New Jersey, and South Carolina. One incident in Yorba Linda, Calif., left a Muslim teenager badly beaten by a group that allegedly included white supremacists.

CAIR is America's largest Islamic civil liberties group. It is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and has 16 regional offices nationwide and in Canada. Since its founding in 1994, CAIR has defended the civil and religious rights of all Americans.

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