ADC Press Release:
Justice Department Joins with Arab Americans to Combat Hate Crimes
Washington, D.C., Sept 13-- Leaders from the American-Arab
Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) and the Arab American Institute
(AAI) expressed concern over the more than 200 incidents of abuse
directed against community members during a meeting today with Ralph
Boyd, Assistant Attorney General and head of the Civil Rights Division.
The incidents range from verbal threats and vicious emails to
physicalattacks and destruction of property.
In response Justice Department officials expressed their commitment to
work with the Arab American community to combat discrimination against
Arab and Muslim Americans. The meeting followed intensive efforts over
the last 48 hours by community leaders to mobilize public figures to
speak out against intolerance and bigotry directed against Arab
Shortly after today's meeting, Attorney General John Ashcroft said,
"Since Tuesday, the Justice Department has received reports of violence
and threats of violence against Arab Americans and other Americans of
Middle Eastern and South Asian descent. We must not descend to the level
of those who perpetrated Tuesday's violence by targeting individuals
based on race, religion or national origin. Such reports of violence and
threats are in direct opposition to the very principles and laws for
which the United States of America stands, and such reports of violence
and threats of violence will not be tolerated."
In a letter presented to Mr. Boyd at today's meeting, AAI & ADC asked
Attorney General John Ashcroft to:
* Discourage acts of vengeance directed against Arab or Muslim
* Meet with community leaders to discuss efforts to combat intolerance
and discrimination; and
* Conduct an outreach effort to encourage Arab Americans to report hate
The leaders also presented the Justice Department with a complete record
of the threats and hate mail that had been received by their
organizations over the last 48 hours. The Department of Justice's
investigative unit accepted those reports for further examination.
Mr. Boyd, who was joined at the meeting by members of the FBI, made it
clear that the Department of Justice condemns attacks against Arab and
Muslim Americans, and that it will investigate and prosecute hate crimes
and harassment of these groups. He said that he did not want to see the
tragedies in New York and Washington compounded by hate crimes directed
against Arab and Muslim Americans.
DC Police Chief Charles Ramsey has pledged his full cooperation and
provided police details for both AAI and ADC.
Earlier in the day, President George W. Bush set the tone by noting
that, "...we must be mindful that as we ... seek to win the war, that we
treat Arab-Americans and Muslims with the respect they deserve."
"The Arab American community welcomes President Bush's statements and
the efforts by the Justice Department. It is important that at this
critical time when we are all mourning the loss of so many Americans,
that our government has made it clear that Arab-Americans will be
protected." said AAI Chairman George Salem .
"The level of support we have received has been a great comfort at this
time. The impact of the statements of the President, Attorney General
and FBI make us feel more secure about the safety of our community in
the coming days," said ADC President Ziad Asali.
AAI President James Zogby noted, "While America has suffered an
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unimaginable blow and we are in the midst of a national tragedy, it is
significant to note that we have been overwhelmed by the expressions of
support. The Justice Department made it clear that they will protect our
rights and the U.S. Senate has already passed a resolution denouncing
discrimination against Arab Americans."
________ ______ American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
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