Muslim and Somali leaders denounce Ohio State University attack
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) condemned an attack at Ohio State University on Monday that injured at least 9 people and asked the public to avoid rushing to judgment about the suspect's motives.
"Like all of our fellow Columbus citizens we are saddened and heartbroken by this senseless act of violence and we want to condemn in the strongest possible terms this and any other kind senseless violent act," Jennifer Nimer, Legal Director for the Ohio Chapter of CAIR, said at a news conference late Monday.
The suspect, who police identified as a Somali man named Abdul Razak Ali Artan, allegedly struck pedestrians with his vehicle when he drove onto the university's campus in Columbus, Ohio, before using a weapon to cut several people.
Members of the Muslim and Somali community at the conference also urged the public not to jump to conclusions about the attack as investigators were still uncovering details about the suspect.
"We as yet know nothing about the motivation of the attack but we do know of his Somali heritage and that will be enough for some people to falsely link this tragic incident to the faith of Islam and the Somali and Muslim communities," said Roula Allouch, national board chair of CAIR, said.
Following reports of threatening letters allegedly mailed to mosques nationwide, CAIR sent a letter asking FBI director James Comey to investigate the messages.
The letters, which reached six mosques in California and Georgia, referred to Muslims as "Children of Satan" and "vile and filthy people."
Monday's attack at Ohio State University may prompt similar threats against the Somali and Muslim community, leaders said at the news conference.
"We are living in times where there's been increased violence against members of the American Muslim community and we want to ensure that as Americans we stand drawn together, united and we don't allow the act of one individual to cause a backlash against others," Allouch said.
Earlier this year, a report from CAIR found 78 violent attacks occurred at mosques in 2015 - up from 34 in 2014. The organization has been tracking the incidents since 2009 and said the number of attacks in 2016 could make it "one of the worst years" on record.
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