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Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Convenes Interfaith, Community and Law Enforcement Leaders to Condemn Terrorism and Address the Danger of Islamophobic Rhetoric After Recent Terrorist Attacks

Thursday, December 17, 2015
Contact: (415) 703-5837, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

LOS ANGELES - Attorney General Kamala D. Harris last night convened interfaith and community leaders and law enforcement officials in southern California, after the recent terrorist attacks in San Bernardino and Paris, to condemn terrorism and discuss the danger of the recent rise in Islamophobic rhetoric and several high-profile hate crime incidents over the past week.  Attorney General Harris discussed the critical role of American Muslim communities in our fight against radicalization and terrorism at home and abroad, and the danger posed when alienating this community. 

“As Americans, we are unified in our commitment to protect our country from terrorist attacks, and we must seek justice for those who lost their lives in the recent attacks in Paris and San Bernardino,” said Attorney General Harris.  “Ultimately, not only is it immoral and contrary to our values to stoke fear and cast aspersions against an entire faith and the millions of law-abiding American Muslims, but it is also strategically unwise. This very community is a critical ally in the short and long term fight combatting terrorism and radicalization here at home and across the world.”

Participants in the gathering included leaders from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Muslim Public Affairs Council, Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, Shia Muslim Council of Southern California, Muslim Students Associated West, Project Islamic Hope, Bend the Arc, Union for Reform Judaism, Holman United Methodist Church, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Progressive Christians Uniting, and Asian Americans Advancing Justice, as well as Los Angles Sheriff Jim McDonnell, representatives from the Los Angeles Police Department, the Office of Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas, and the Office of Supervisor Hilda L. Solis.

"Attorney General Harris has exemplified leadership by initiating this meeting with Muslim community and civil rights leaders to address the spike in hate crimes against American Muslims and other minorities," said Hussam Ayloush, Executive Director of CAIR-LA. "Islamophobic and xenophobic rhetoric by certain public figures has made Muslim communities an easy target for hate crimes. Muslim and civil rights leaders present at last night’s meeting welcomed the Attorney General's promise to pursue such crimes with the full force of the law."

“One of the primary teachings of Judaism is that all human beings are created in the image of God.  As an American, I believe in the rule of law, fairness and justice, as well as equal protection for all citizens.  In this time of swirling darkness and rising hate, I hope and pray that we remember our humanity, remember our essence and remember why live in the United States,” said Rabbi Joshua Levine Grater, Co-Founder of Abrahamic Faiths Peacemaking Initiative. “I stand with my friends in the Muslim community as an ally against hate and discrimination.  In a previous generation, it was my people facing this rhetoric. Enough.”

“The recent tragedies in Paris and San Bernardino have caused significant security concerns across the globe,” said Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck. “To protect our communities, we must maintain our strong relationship with American Muslims and fight angry rhetoric and hate crimes. I commend Attorney General Kamala Harris for being a leader in supporting and protecting the Muslim community in California.”

Attorney General Harris convened a diverse group of faith and community leaders and law enforcement officials to address heated rhetoric after the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino. The convening also served as an opportunity to speak out against hateful rhetoric and directly hear  concerns from the interfaith leaders. The convening brought together a broad range of faith leaders in a show of support for the American Muslim community of California.  Individuals shared stories ranging from bullying of their children in schools, to hate crimes committed against their families. 

In her remarks to the group, the Attorney General condemned the recent acts of terrorism, anti Muslim rhetoric, fear mongering and policy proposals that cast suspicion over entire groups of Americans, as a danger to the security of our state and nation. The Attorney General expressed the central role American Muslim communities play in combatting radicalization at home and abroad, and warned about the dangers of alienating this community.

Attorney General Harris also discussed her office’s efforts to prosecute hate crimes and her office’s annual publication of hate crimes in the state. The Attorney General’s office maintains a rapid response protocol to assist in the investigation, identification, arrest, prosecution, and conviction of those who commit hate crimes, as well as provides brochures in nine different languages about how to identify and report these heinous crimes.  

Law enforcement agencies are investigating a spate of recent incidents, including vandalism at two Hawthorne mosques, as hate crimes against American Muslims.  In 2014, hate crimes decreased by 9% from the year before, but there were still 664 hate crimes reported in California that year. Additionally, the percentage of hate crimes targeting American Muslims, as a share of the total number of hate crimes, rose in 2014 (1.8% of total in 2010 to 2.4% in 2014).  Hate Crimes in California 2014 report is available online here: https://oag.ca.gov/sites/all/files/agweb/pdfs/cjsc/publications/hatecrimes/hc14/preface14.pdf

On December 3, Attorney General Harris visited the site of the San Bernardino shooting and was briefed by local law enforcement leaders participating in the investigation.  She has dedicated the resources of the California Department of Justice to continue to assist in coordinating investigative efforts and sharing intelligence and resources. The Attorney General’s office of Victim Services is also coordinating with local and federal victim services.

The California Department of Justice works with the California State Threat Assessment Center and other fusion centers to assess, coordinate and investigate threats across the state. DOJ agents also assist in the analyses of data and relevant information associated with potential threats. 

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