Jamelle Bouie writes: On Wednesday night at a bar in Olathe, Kansas, 51-year-old Adam Purinton pulled out a gun and opened fire on two local engineers from India as well as two patrons who tried to intervene in the situation. One of the Indian men, 32-year-old Srinivas Kuchibhotla, died of his wounds while at a hospital. The other, Alok Madasani, also 32, was injured. One of the bystanders, 24-year-old Ian Grillot, who is white, was seriously wounded. According to witnesses, Purinton had been kicked out of the bar after causing a disruption. He later re-entered carrying a weapon. Hurling racial slurs at the two engineers, he began firing. “Get out of my country,” he reportedly said.
If accurate, witnesses and victims have described a hate crime: an attack meant to intimidate an entire community, as much as to harm a particular individual. Given the larger atmosphere of fear and hostility toward immigrants and people perceived as “foreigners,” this shooting has received wide attention from national outlets. But there’s one prominent observer who hasn’t weighed in on the incident: the president of the United States. Donald Trump is quick to comment on everything from leaks in his administration to cable news — and he’s never refrained from condemning terrorist attacks.
Earlier this month, for example, at the Louvre Museum in Paris, a young man attacked a group of soldiers: Wielding a machete, he ran at them shouting in Arabic, “Allahu akbar.” Police shot and subdued the suspect, who was taken into custody with serious injuries. The attempted attack placed terrorism back in the headlines of French politics, renewing fears and concerns around security and immigration. Here in the United States, President Donald Trump used the incident to justify his exclusionary policies toward Muslim immigrants and refugees. “A new radical Islamic terrorist has just attacked in Louvre Museum in Paris. Tourists were locked down,” said Trump on Twitter. “France on edge again. GET SMART U.S.” This was of a piece with statements Trump made in the wake of incidents in Nice, France, Berlin, and other attacks overseas claimed by militant Islamist groups.
There was no such statement about the two men in Kansas. No condemnation of the racial violence that grievously wounded an American and claimed the life of a law-abiding legal resident. But then, Trump is rarely interested in those incidents. Just two days after the attempted attack in France, 27-year-old Alexandre Bissonnette shot and killed six worshippers at a mosque in Quebec City. Described by activists as a “white nationalist,” Bissonnette was known locally as a right-wing, anti-immigrant troll inspired by extreme right-wing figures like Donald Trump and France’s Marine Le Pen. Where Trump was vocal in the face of the incident in Paris, he was silent following the murders in Quebec. [Continue reading…]
Times of India reports: The wife of Indian engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla, who was shot dead in an apparent hate crime by a Navy veteran at a bar in Olathe city, has said that she had her doubts about staying in the US but was assured by her husband that “good things happen in America”.
Speaking at a news conference organised by GPS-maker Garmin where Srinivas worked, Sunayana Dumala said reports of bias in the US make minorities afraid as she questioned “do we belong here”.
She said she now wonders what will the US government do to stop hate crimes against minorities. [Continue reading…]
McClatchy reports: Kansas doesn’t have any hate crime statutes so the FBI was called in to investigate possible civil rights violations.
The shooting set off a wave of fear throughout the local Indian community and even got the attention of India’s government, which has promised to keep tabs on the investigation’s progress.
Kansas lawmakers immediately condemned what they saw as an act of prejudice and “cowardly” xenophobia.
“I am very disturbed by last night’s shooting in Olathe,” said U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan. “I strongly condemn violence of any kind, especially if it is motivated by prejudice and xenophobia.”
Rep. Kevin Yoder, a Republican who represents Olathe, called the attack “a senseless tragedy,” praised the “vibrant Indian-American community” and said diverse political and religions views are what make Kansas great. [Continue reading…]
Earlier this month, NBC Miami reported: An ex-convict who posted anti-Islamic rants online pleaded no contest and was sentenced to 30 years in prison on Monday for setting fire to a mosque that the Orlando nightclub shooter attended occasionally.
[Joseph] Schreiber, who is Jewish, posted on Facebook last July that “All Islam is radical” and that all Muslims should be treated as terrorists and criminals.
Prosecutor Steve Gosnell said Schreiber, 32, confessed to detectives that he set the fire, saying he believed Muslims “are trying to infiltrate our government” and that “the teaching of Islam should be completely, completely illegal.” [Continue reading…]
CNN reports: A small fire that damaged a mosque in suburban Tampa, Florida, has been ruled arson, Hillsborough County fire investigators said Friday.
The fire was reported about 2 a.m. Friday at the Islamic Society of New Tampa, fire department public information officer Corey Dierdorff said.
Firefighters arrived and quickly put out the fire at an entrance to the building, CNN affiliate WFTS reported. Nobody was injured in the blaze.
Authorities have not decided if the fire was a hate crime, but Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said at a news conference: “This is no different than the wave of anti-Semitic attacks on Jewish community centers and synagogue and bomb threats that have been called in all across the country, including in Tampa over the recent months.” [Continue reading…]
Muhammad Ali Jr., 44, and his mother, Khalilah Camacho-Ali, the first wife of Muhammad Ali, were arriving at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Feb. 7 after returning from speaking at a Black History Month event in Montego Bay, Jamaica. They were pulled aside while going through customs because of their Arabic-sounding names, according to family friend and lawyer Chris Mancini.
Immigration officials let Camacho-Ali go after she showed them a photo of herself with her ex-husband, but her son did not have such a photo and wasn’t as lucky. Mancini said officials held and questioned Ali Jr. for nearly two hours, repeatedly asking him, “Where did you get your name from?” and “Are you Muslim?”
When Ali Jr. responded that yes, he is a Muslim, the officers kept questioning him about his religion and where he was born. Ali Jr. was born in Philadelphia in 1972 and holds a U.S. passport. [Continue reading…]