July 8th, 2009 10:22 EST
FBI Probe of Calif. Imam's Death
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today welcomed the FBI`s decision to join the investigation into the death of a California imam, or Islamic religious leader, killed in a suspicious " fire last month.
SEE: FBI Joins Investigation of Muslim Leader`s Death (The Sun)
SEE ALSO: FBI Now Involved in Yermo Fire Investigation (Desert Dispatch)
Last week, CAIR`s Greater Los Angeles Area office called on the FBI to add its resources to the investigation of the death of Imam Ali Mohammed, whose body was found inside a burned Yermo, Calif., residence on June 27.
Family members say the imam went to clean hate graffiti scrawled inside an unoccupied house that was once the family`s home, but he never returned. The family had recently moved out of the house because of alleged anti-Muslim harassment and prejudice by individuals in the area. According to authorities, an individual who was suspected of harassing the family was sent to prison in 2008.
Graffiti written on the walls inside the house prior to the fire stated: F*** you Arab, " KKK, sand n**ger, " go home Arab. " An American flag and a Nazi swastika were also drawn on the walls.
SEE: Hate Graffiti at Yermo House
Local law enforcement authorities are calling the explosion and fire suspicious " but have not yet made a determination as to the cause of the blaze. The results of an autopsy on the imam`s body have not been released.
We welcome the FBI`s intervention in this case and hope that the cause of Imam Mohammed`s death and of the fire can be determined quickly, " said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad. The community needs to know whether or not anti-Muslim bias was a factor in the imam`s death. "
In June, a mosque in Cypress, Calif., was vandalized with graffiti, which stated: "F**k You, "we`re going to kill you," and "US Military is going to kill you all." Police are treating the vandalism at the Cypress mosque as a hate crime.
SEE: Islamic Center Tagged with Graffiti
In July, CAIR`s south Florida chapter (CAIR-SFL) called on the FBI to investigate a possible bias motive for vandalism at a mosque in that state. Two teens were later arrested in the case. One of the teens told police that the vandalism had been planned for months and that all Muslims are terrorists. "
SEE: Police: 2 Vandalized Mosque (Miami Herald)
Today, CAIR reported a controversy over a Florida church sign that claims Islam is of the Devil. "
SEE: Fla. Church Sign Says "Islam is of the Devil`
CAIR offers advice for reacting to anti-Muslim hate crimes in its "Muslim Community Safety Kit."
SEE: CAIR Muslim Community Safety Kit
CAIR, America`s largest Muslim civil liberties organization, has 35 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. 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.
CONTACT: CAIR-LA Communications Manager Munira Syeda, 714-776-1847, 714-851-4851, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail: email@example.com; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org