Tuesday, November 10, 2009

CAIR-Tampa Seeks Hate Crime Charges for Attack on ‘Terrorist’ Priest
Attacker claims Greek Orthodox priest who does not speak Arabic shouted ‘Allahu akbar’

(TAMPA, FL, 11/10/09) - The Tampa chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations(CAIR-Tampa) today called for hate crime charges to be filed in the case of a Marine reservist who allegedly attacked a Greek Orthodox priest visiting Florida from Crete because he thought the man was a “terrorist.”

According to police, the 29-year-old priest was hit over the head with a tire iron and chased for three blocks Monday after he asked the 28-year-old reservist for help when he got lost in Tampa. The reservist allegedly attacked the priest and then called 911, saying an “Arab man” was trying to rob him. The assailant also told police the victim was a “terrorist” and that he heard him shout "Allahu Akbar" -- Arabic for "God is great.” The priest does not speak Arabic.

SEE: Marine Reservist Attacked Greek Priest He Thought was a Terrorist

“The apparent bias motive in this attack indicates the need for relevant hate crime charges to be brought against the alleged assailant,” said CAIR-Tampa Executive Director Ramzy Kiliç. “We hope this incident is not a case of backlash in response to the recent tragedy at Fort Hood in Texas.”

Kiliç said that until today, bias incidents related to the Fort Hood attack had been largely limited to hate calls, faxes and e-mails to American Muslim organizations and houses of worship.

SEE: GOP Rep Won't Denounce Call for Backlash Against American Muslims

CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

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