Muslim man reportedly beaten outside mosque attended by Orlando gunman

Muslim man reportedly beaten outside mosque attended by Orlando gunman
(Sunday, July 3, 2016) 12:42

Council on American-Islamic Relations says attacker, who used racial slurs, caused head trauma and knocked out victim’s tooth at Fort Pierce Islamic Center

An Islamic civil rights group said on Saturday a Muslim man was beaten outside the Fort Pierce Islamic Center, which the Orlando nightclub gunman, Omar Mateen, had attended. The group said local authorities ignored requests for increased security at the Islamic center, despite numerous threats.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (Cair) released a statement saying a white truck stopped at the mosque at 4.15am on Saturday and that a man used racial slurs, saying: “You Muslims need to get back to your country.”

The statement said the man beat the victim, causing head trauma and knocking out a tooth. The victim was not identified and it was not clear if he had been hospitalized.

The St Lucie County sheriff’s office did not immediately respond to emails and multiple phone messages.

Cair said the sheriff’s office had repeatedly ignored pleas to tighten security since Mateen shot 49 people dead and wounded 53 at an LGBT nightclub two weeks ago, in the worst mass shooting in US history.

The group said mosques around the state had received multiple threats and acts of intimidation, including a motorcycle group repeatedly circling the Fort Pierce mosque and an Orlando mosque being vandalized.

The Cair spokesman Wilfredo Amr Ruiz said the Fort Pierce congregation included witnesses who were cooperating with the FBI over the Orlando attack and needed protection. He said the group planned to file complaints with Florida governor Rick Scott and with the US Department of Justice.

“Unfortunately, our requests were repeatedly ignored,” Ruiz said in a statement. “Will someone have to be killed for the sheriff to provide safety and security to this Mosque? Muslims are part of the community just like everyone else. It is his duty and responsibility to ensure the safety of all his citizens.”

Mateen’s father is among the roughly 100 members who attend the mosque. Ruiz said Omar Mateen sometimes attended Friday prayers but did not socialize with others.

Approximately 170,000 Muslims attend about 120 mosques in Florida, according to the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies.

Sheriff Ken Mascara said in a statement on Friday that deputies were patrolling the mosque more frequently but the office did not have the staffing levels to place guards there, even if reimbursed. He had said no threats had been reported.

“The terrorist attack in Orlando has our entire agency working extremely hard,” he said. “Our first and primary mission is to ensure the continued safety and security of our entire county.

“Placing patrol units at specific locations by special request, even if reimbursed by the requesting party, is evaluated based on staffing levels and can at times limit our ability to maintain our mission and appropriately respond to the entire community.”

The Guardian
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