Idaho: Muslim women told ‘get out of his country, you don’t belong, terrorists’
Local leaders in the Muslim community are urging two women to pursue charges against a man who verbally assaulted them at Wal Mart on Sunday.
But, investigators are not considering this to be a hate crime, yet.
General Secretary of the Islamic Society of Eastern Idaho Daniel Hummel said the two women were sought-after by the man who apparently has a longstanding history of anger toward the Muslim community.
“He was telling them to get out of his country, ‘you don’t belong, terrorists.’ It kept coming up, and it scared them,” Hummel said, noting the women tried to get away from the man before the store managers were called to intervene.
The Chubbuck Police Department also stepped-in, but the women decided to not pursue any legal charges against the men at that time.
Chubbuck Police Dept.’s Lieutenant Bill Guiberson said, as much as hateful words can be harmful, legally this case was not considered a hate crime under Idaho law.
“As a police officer, we are sworn to protect the Constitution of the United States,” Guiberson said. “That’s one thing that is very serious to us, and in this situation, whether we agree with one or either party, they each had their protected rights.”
Guiberson said in order for this situation to be considered a hate crime, the man had to have verbally threatened the women and/or physically assaulted them.
However in this case, neither of that happened.
“He could have been charged with disturbing the peace or even disorderly conduct,” Guiberson added.
He also pointed-out, under Title 18, Chapter 79 in the Idaho Code, it defines Malicious Harassment as:
“It shall be unlawful for any person, maliciously and with the specific intent to intimidate or harass another person because of that person’s race, color, religion, ancestry, or national origin, to: cause physical injury to another person; or damage, destroy, or deface any real or personal property of another person; or threaten, by word or act, to do the acts prohibited if there is reasonable cause to believe that any of the acts…will occur.”
Special FBI agent in Salt lake City Todd Palmer said in order for a crime or incident to be considered a “hate crime” it has to fall under very specific categories.
“If the individual is targeted because of their race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation, or even perceived race, ethnicity or sexual orientation, and we can prove they are being targeted because of those reasons, then that’s a hate crime,” Palmer said.
So, if someone is walking down the street and someone throws something at them, they can be charged with assault, but until one of these factors is proven, then it won’t be considered a hate crime.
Guiberson added, if the man ends up following the women to persistently harass them, then that could be considered to be a hate crime.
Hummel said he is shocked to see this nationwide problem of anger toward the Muslim community here in southeast Idaho.
He said witnesses were able to identify the man and he plans to pursue further action against him by filing for a restraining order to protect all Muslim women in the community.