Muslim Woman Vindicated for Hate Crime

(CHICAGO, 01/06/10) CAIR-Chicago announced today that it is pleased with the plea agreement reached yesterday between state prosecutors and Valerie Kenney, a suburban woman who faced hate crime charges after attacking a Muslim woman at a Tinley Park grocery store 2 days after the Fort Hood shooting. SEE: News Clip

The Muslim woman, Amal Abusumayah was shopping when Kenney made loud remarks about the Fort Hood attack being committed by a Middle-Easterner. Amal ignored the comment andwalked on but later, as she was leaving the store, Kenney tightly pulled back Amal’s hijab. Amal reported the incident to local police who advised her to press charges against Kenney. SEE: Old News Clip

Prosecutors say as part of the plea deal, the charges were changed to battery and parts of the Hate Crimes Law sentencing guidelines were applied. Kenney was sentenced to 2 years probation, 200 hours of community service, and a $2,500 dollar fine. Kenney also apologized openly in court to Abusumayah, her family and the Muslim community.

“We are happy with the decision and we hope this sends a message to the public that this sort of behavior should not be tolerated by a fair and just society,” said Civil Rights Director Christina Abraham who attended the hearing with Abusumayah. “I think the terms of the plea agreement adequately address the issue and gave the defendant an opportunity to learn from her mistake.”

“I feel vindicated,” said Abusumayah after the hearing. “This is a major victory for not only women who wear the headscarf but for everyone who stands for religious freedom and freedom of expression.”

Abusumayah also thanked all those who offered her their support, which she noted included people of various religious and ethnic backgrounds.

CAIR-Chicago is a chapter of America’s largest Muslim civil rights group, which has 33 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to promote justice, enhance the understanding of Islam, and empower American Muslims.

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CAIR-Chicago Executive Director, Ahmed Rehab, 202-870-0166,
CAIR-Chicago Communications Coordinator, Amina Sharif, 312-212-1520, 630-935-5562,