CBS News: Threats Against Chicago Muslims on the Rise

Islamic rights advocates say there’s been a rise in the number of threats directed at local Muslims. And some of these threats are being delivered right to their doors. CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli reports.

When Ahmed Rehab walks up to his suburban home these days it’s with a new sense of awareness. That’s because of what he found waiting for him in his mailbox just a few days ago, a postmarked typewritten hate-filled letter complete with a death threat.

“At the end of the letter it stated, ‘the only good Arab is a DEAD Arab,'” said Rehab.

Rehab is the Executive Director of the Chicago chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, or CAIR.

As leader of the city’s largest Islamic rights organization, Rehab is no stranger to threats, but never before at his home.

“It was very creepy to see something like that at your place of residence,” Rehab said.

And he’s not the only Muslim disturbed by a recent piece of hate mail.

Jeanean Othman says she was taken aback and shaken Monday when she was serving free food at a Mosque-owned Bridgeview food pantry when a man served her with hate mail.

Othman says he walked into the pantry and handed her the envelope and then walked out without saying a word. But the words he wrote will stick with her.

“The least of it was that Muslims are all pigs and swine. And that was actually the least hurtful thing in there,” said Othman.

At the CAIR offices downtown, they’ve received several threatening messages in recent days, too. Officials say they received so many threats lately that it’s starting to feel like open season on Muslims in Chicago.

“If you add up hate mail, hateful phone calls and e-mails, racial slurs being yelled at people and verbal or physical altercations, it’s dozens of incidents,” said CAIR Communications Director Amina Sharif.

Sharif believes 10 times as many threats go unreported.

The FBI is investigating the threat against Rehab. But Rehab took time out today to directly address the anonymous letter writer.

“Hate is a self-addressed envelope and so the person who bears this hate is the victim of his own hatred before I am. And I can only pray for that person to find peace and to rid himself of that hatred,” said Rehab.

Rehab believes that hate incidents dovetail with the news cycle. He says incidents recently started to increase in the wake of the Fort Hood shootings, and the recent attempt to blow up an airplane.

There are more than 300,000 Muslims in the Chicagoland area.

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