A Muslim couple in St. Louis, Missouri said they were threatened by a man waving a gun and shouting obscenities while they were house hunting last weekend.
Rabie and Marwah Ayoub were searching for a new home when a neighborhood resident, Leonard Debello, asked them if they were Muslim. He then allegedly shouted “All of you should die,” before going inside to get his gun.
“This state allows you to carry a gun and shoot you,” he allegedly said. “You, your wife and your kids have to die.”
The St. Louis County Police Department is reportedly still investigating the incident, however, there has been no action taken against Debello besides a brief arrest on Sunday. Debello later told a local news station that he regretted what he had done and attributed his behavior to forgetting to take his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder medication.
“He wasn’t sorry when he pulled the gun, he wasn’t thinking about it. He was ready to shoot. If he shot me, my wife or kids, what’s his apology going to do,” Rabie Ayoub said.
The local chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations is not taking the situation lightly; the group is calling for the incident to be prosecuted as a hate crime as Debello’s threats have evoked fear within the city’s entire Muslim community.
“That’s the nature of hate crimes, they don’t just target one specific individual or family,” said Faizan Syed, executive director of the chapter. “The crime itself has implications for a group and the effects happen to everybody within our community.”
While intolerance is running rampant in the United States and hate plagues the quality of life for people of various social identities including black Americans and the LGBT community, Syed noted that the anti-Muslim rhetoric coming from the Republican Party amid the current presidential election has “mainstreamed Islamophobia.”
His assessment is accurate. If you look at the kinds of negative remarks Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and even Ben Carson have made about Muslims and immigrants while on the campaign trail and then consider all the recent acts of hate that have been directed at Muslims, the correlation is blatant.
“We now feel and we now see that it’s almost an OK reality to target Muslims, to bully Muslim kids,” Syed said.
The fact that the people who are inciting the behavior Debello displayed are also the Republican front-runners to become president of this country is a terrifying reality. Their platforms are counterproductive to the efforts of all the civil rights and social equality advocates of the past and present.
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