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 Democratic Club.
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 chief.
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.


Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
2004 . All Rights Reserved.