Hancock, NY (March 21, 2016) The Muslims of America, Inc. (TMOA), has filed a landmark civil lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York against Robert R. Doggart of Tennessee and William Tint of South Carolina, and other un-named defendants for their roles in a foiled 2015 plot to burn down the masjid in the Muslim village of Islamberg, located here in Hancock.
The complaint, believed to be the first of its kind, is brought under 18 U.S. Code § 248, the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act of 1994 (“FACE Act”), which prohibits individuals from using force, intimidation, or threat of force or by physical obstruction against a person lawfully exercising or seeking to exercise their First Amendment right of religious freedom at a place of religious worship.
“We filed this civil action because these defendants need to be held accountable for their atrocious behavior toward American Muslims.” stated Tahirah H. Clark, co-counsel for the plaintiff along with Tahirah Amatul-Wadud.
The past year saw an uptick in violence toward American Muslims amid increased hateful rhetoric and Islamophobia. Islamberg was targeted in two separate incidents by right wing domestic extremists. Three college students were executed in their home because they were Muslim, while others have been attacked for speaking Arabic, or for wrongly being identified as Muslim. “African American churches and mosques all over the country were violated in a showing of hatred directed toward the American worshiper,” said Attorney Amatul-Wadud, “We must use all legal means available to stop the terrorization of people based on their faith for any reason. We invite like minded people to join and support this legal effort.”
Officials informed the Muslim congregation at Islamberg in April of 2015 that Doggart had been arrested the day he planned to travel to Islamberg. The criminal complaint cites Doggart as saying in wire tapped calls: “I got this battalion that I command and they want to go take action…” “those guys [ought or have] to be killed. Their buildings need to be burnt down…We’re gonna be carrying an M4 with 500 rounds of ammunition, light armor piercing. A pistol with 3 extra magazines and a machete. And if it gets down to the machete, we will cut them to shreds.” Apparently William Tint, an ex-marine and reconnaissance specialist, was a part of this battalion and was subsequently indicted in the U.S. District Court District of South Carolina in June of 2015 on related charges. Both men were released to home confinement.
The Doggart criminal case garnered a great deal of interest on social media after a picture of Islamberg children holding a banner asking “Why do you want to kill us Robert Doggart?”, was presented to President Obama during his 2015 White House annual Iftar Dinner. For updates follow: #JusticeForIslamberg on most social media platforms.
TMOA is scheduling an invitation-only press conference to address the filing. Members of the media are invited to attend after applying for and receiving a press pass. To apply for a press pass, please visit http://goo.gl/forms/ndxBNg73jR.