Friday, April 20, 2007

Muslim, gay communities focus on hate crimes in Florida community

A public forum on hate crimes against Muslims is scheduled for Saturday in Melbourne, following statewide vigils a week ago that raised awareness of hate crimes against gays. Both gays and Muslims contend they face growing hostility and violence in Florida.
"Unfortunately, what we are seeing is an increase in the rhetoric of hate against Islam and Muslims," said Sabiha Khan, director of the Orlando office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which is sponsoring the forum.
The forum, scheduled for 2 p.m. on the Florida Institute of Technology campus, is the latest in several community-awareness events CAIR has hosted since a Muslim man was shot at in September 2006 after stepping outside a Melbourne mosque to use his cell phone. Five shots were fired, one barely missing the man's head.

Instead of calling the police, Muslims often call CAIR with complaints of threats, attacks, discrimination, harassment and racial profiling. In 2005, CAIR received 112 complaints statewide of anti-Muslim treatment -- about 80 percent of those involving discrimination and harassment. Eleven were for violence.

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