WASHINGTON — Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Thursday warned that the Justice Department could take aggressive action against people whose anti-Muslim rhetoric “edges towards violence” and told the Muslim community that “we stand with you in this.”
Speaking at Muslim Advocate’s 10th anniversary dinner, Lynch said since the terrorist attacks in Paris last month, she is increasingly concerned with the “incredibly disturbing rise of anti-Muslim rhetoric … that fear is my greatest fear.”
Following the Paris attacks, there has been an uptick in violent attacks on Muslims and threats against mosques across the country. That, combined with heated political rhetoric such as GOP presidential front runner Donald Trump’s call to register Muslim Americans, has Muslim community leaders worried that they could be facing a new era of discrimination.
Lynch made it clear that she shares those concerns, but vowed to use the DOJ to protect Muslims from discrimination and violence. Noting the rise in violence against Muslims and mosques in the wake of the Paris attacks, Lynch added that, “When we talk about the First amendment we [must] make it clear that actions predicated on violent talk are not American. They are not who we are, they are not what we do, and they will be prosecuted.”
“My message not just to the Muslim community but to all Americans is ‘We cannot give in to the fear that these backlashes are really based on,’” Lynch said.
John Stanton is a national reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New Orleans. In 2014, Stanton was a recipient of the National Press Foundation’s 2014 Dirksen Award for distinguished reporting of Congress.
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