US activists worry Muslim hate crimes could rise

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SHAFAQNA - Civil rights activists fear the fatal shooting of a suspected terrorist who authorities say plotted to kill police officers may lead to a spike in hate crimes against Boston Muslims.

“There is a concern about hate crimes. … If the allegations are true, this is not to brand all Muslims,” said Sarah Wunsch, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts.

Hate crimes against Muslims increased after the 2013 bombings at the Boston Marathon finish line, Wunsch said.

On Tuesday, a Boston officer and an FBI agent working in a Joint Terrorism Task Force fatally shot a 26-year-old Muslim man who cops said refused to comply with orders to drop a military-style knife and lunged at officers in Roslindale. The suspect, Usaamah Rahim, allegedly conspired with his nephew, David Wright of Everett, to kill Boston police officers and was planning an imminent attack, according to the FBI.

Wunsch stressed the police account of the shooting and Rahim’s suspected terrorist activities are nothing but allegations that haven’t been vigorously challenged.

Ibrahim Hooper, with the Council of American-Islamic Relations, said he is also concerned about hate crimes against Muslims. However, he said his organization is also concerned about the safety of the public and police. He said radical terrorist groups like ISIS can cast a cloud over the religion and most Muslims are peaceful and law-abiding.

“You never find that they’ve been radicalized in a mosque,” Hooper said. “It’s always on the Internet from foreign sources.”

Boston police spokesman, Officer Stephen McNulty, said the department was not aware of any suspected hate crimes related to the alleged plot or Rahim’s death.

“It’s something, obviously, we’re monitoring,” said McNulty, who urged anyone feeling targeted to speak up. “Civil rights come first.”

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