AMA, Allies Ask Assemblyman
Klehs for Action against Hate Crimes
By Hazem I. Kira
Assemblymember Johan Klehs(left)
at a recent CCRA meeting
Newark, CA: A group of Muslim
leaders and their allies met with California Assemblyman Johan
Klehs to ask for action against growing hate crimes against
Muslims, Arabs, and South Asians. “The bigot in the
street now sees the overall atmosphere created by the USA
PATRIOT ACT as a green light to go ahead strike the next Muslim
he or she sees,” AMA/AMT Chair Dr. Agha Saeed said.
“When elected officials like Republican Congressman
Thomas Tancredo publicly advocate that ‘we could take
out their holy sites,’ such as Mecca and Medina, they
deliberately incite hatred and violence against Muslims.”
The meeting with Assemblyman Johan Klehs was attended by Muhammad
Malik who said he was a victim of a recent hate crime. Others
present included Dr. Agha Saeed, National Chair of the American
Muslim Taskforce (AMT); Dr. Waheed Siddiqui of the United
Muslims of America (UMA); Dr. Haseeb Rizvi of the Strategic
Research Foundation; Jim Gonzales, former Fremont City attorney
and civil rights activist, and Harry Scott, President of Hayward
Expressing their concern on rapid increase in violent crimes
against Muslims, the civil rights leaders asked assemblyman
Klehs to help the specific case of Mr. Malik and extend legislative
support for civil rights legislation. Civil Rights issues,
they told the assemblyman, are at the forefront of the Muslim
American community concerns because they often find themselves
in the cross hairs of racially motivated hate crimes and legislation
attempting to curtail their civil liberties.
A recent survey by the Council on American Islamic Relations
(CAIR) found an increase in overall hate crimes, with over
1,500 incident reports of civil rights cases in 2004 compared
to 1,019 cases reported in 2003. This is a 49 percent increase
in the reported cases of harassment, violence and discriminatory
treatment from 2003 and marks the highest number of Muslim
civil rights cases ever reported in more than a decade.
In a police report filed on July 27, Mr Muhammad Malik said
he and his 5-year-old-son were walking to their car when a
neighbor, who lives upstairs and who had had an angry exchange
with his children a few days earlier, passed them by. Half
an hour later, at 11:45 pm the police knocked on the door
of his home and placed him under citizen’s arrest at
the request of that same neighbor, who happened to be a Marine.
He was taken to the police department overnight, and released
on his own recognizance pending his appearance before a court
on August 22. According to Hayward police, the upstairs neighbor
claimed that Mr. Malik had assaulted him.
Mr. Malik, father of four, said he believed the Marine’s
move to be racially motivated to bully him and his family.
He said his family has on many occasions heard the upstairs
neighbor spew racist comments, calling him and his family
“Bastard Pakis”, Monkeys”, “Yellow
Fever”, and “Muslim Bastards”.
He said other neighbors have also been harassed with racial
slurs, including an African American family living nearby
that overheard the same individual refer to their very young
children as “bastard children”.
Assemblymember Klehs represents the 18th Assembly District,
which includes San Leandro, Hayward, Dublin, most of Castro
Valley and Pleasanton, and a portion of Oakland. He assured
Mr. Malik that he would follow up on his case. At present,
Klehs’ office is also working with the American Muslim
Alliance (AMA) to set up a meeting with the Hayward police
Assemblyman Klehs also expressed his commitment to support
Senate Joint Resolution 10, a civil rights legislation introduced
by Sen. Liz Figueroa on behest of the California Civil Rights
Alliance (CCRA), a statewide coalition of 23 mainstream organizations,
that is expected to be voted on in the third week of August.