(ATLANTA, GA - 4/6/17) The Georgia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations today joined the Southern Poverty Law Center to discuss issues related to hate crimes with law students at Georgia State University. CAIR Georgia executive director Edward Ahmed Mitchell and Stephen Piggott, a senior research analyst with the Southern Poverty Law Center, discussed a recent spike in hate crimes targeting minority communities as well as potential solutions to the trend.
"A wave of poitical hate speech has escalated into an avalanche of violent hate crimes that threaten various communities, including American Muslims," Mitchell said. "Whether a Muslim woman has her hijab ripped off or a mosque burns down, such hate crimes must be punished to the full extent of the law."
Georgia is one of the few states that does not have a so-called hate crimes law, which would impose heightened punishments for physical violence motivated by bias against a victim's identity.
"Given the political leanings of our state legislature, it is highly unlikely that Georgia will approve a wide-reaching hate crimes law in the near future," Mitchell said. "That doesn't mean we should give up pushing for it. Even a very basic law that covers attacks based on gender, religion and ethnic identity would show that our state views bias-motivated attacks as not only criminal, but just as morally reprehensible as an attack on a police officer."