Press TV has interviewed Richard Silverstein, a journalist and political commentator from Washington’s Seattle, to further discuss the gunning down of an Imam and his friend near a mosque in New York City.
Press TV: Police have not yet said so, but do you believe that this was a hate crime?
Silverstein: I think it’s a little too early to say that specifically, but I would say that there is an atmosphere of hatred against Muslims and violence against Muslims in the United States, thanks to the presidential campaign of Donald Trump who made a big speech today about his terrorism plan, which includes a restriction on the immigration of people from Arab lands and Muslim lands to the United States based on a supposed fear that they would engage in terrorism. So, I think the crime happens in the context of that level of hostility, so it would not at all surprise me if this was a hate crime. Some of the news reports are saying that there might have been some kind of a spat or a feud between the local Hispanic and Muslim community, but I think that detracts from the seriousness of the crime, and also wanted to add that in the United States we don’t take crimes against Muslims as seriously as we do against Jews or other groups. Today, in the New York Times, the story about this murder was on page 16, if this had been the murder of a Rabbi in Brookline or a pasture somewhere else in the United States it would be front page headlines, in every newscast, in every newspaper, and unfortunately it’s not.
Press TV: Just because of the gruesome nature of this crime, do you think that finally authorities may take notice or, even like Donald Trump, tone down the rhetoric?
Silverstein: Very much so, I would call it almost an execution- style murder. I don’t know what the motives of the killer were, but if he was motivated by hate, then this was exactly the kind of gruesome crime that you would expect. I don’t think that Donald Trump will change his plan at all, I do think he is going to have a massive defeat in this election, but he does represent a sizeable minority of Americans who seek culprits and seek scapegoats to blame for everything from economic problems to religious terrorism in the world. People need somebody to blame, and they are all too eager to blame Muslims for that. And it is also too easy for them to forget when Muslims themselves are the victims of terror attacks as I believe may have been the case in this murder.
Press TV: In the wake of these murders, so are feared now in the Muslim community, I would have imagined, especially of course in New York, how legitimate do you think that fear is going forward?
Silverstein: I think that Muslims do have the right to fear, just as in past generations I think Jews and other minorities, immigrant minority groups, did have rights to fear, because there was lots of violence directed against all of the previous waves of immigration in the United States. So, I think it’s very important for Muslims to stay on guard to defend their rights and themselves. I think groups like CAIR in the United States which defend Muslim rights are very important and I think it’s important to keep pressure on elected officials and on the police to solve these crimes and to take them as seriously as they would take a crime against another group like Jews or Christians.
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