On Tuesday, August 9, 2022, a man was arrested in connection with the killings of 4 Muslim men in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The man was charged with two of the killings and is a suspect in the two other deaths. Though news of his arrest provides temporary relief, these crimes will likely remain in the minds of community members and many others across the country for years to come.
Violent Crimes Devastate Affected Communities
Any crime committed by one human being against another is a tragedy, but a crime motivated by hatred is uniquely damaging. A hate crime doesn’t have to be legally defined as such to send waves of shock and fear throughout the immediate community impacted and the larger community they represent. When a hate crime occurs, the people impacted are robbed of their sense of safety. We have a mandate to promote the general welfare of the people in this nation, and that must apply to these damaging acts of hate.
Even if the investigation determines these killings do not meet the criteria for a hate crime, the impact on the broader Muslim community is undeniable. Government agencies must recognize this and work with community stakeholders to create a safer environment.
Targeted Communities Must Lead
These communities know best what they need. They deserve the support to heal and rebuild a sense of security. Historically, our justice system has diverted attention and resources towards counterterrorism efforts which disproportionately target communities of color and religious minorities. The attacks in Albuquerque underscore the urgency of investing in programs and initiatives that target hate at the root and protect the most vulnerable.
Standing With Our Neighbors
As people of faith, we are called to protect the most vulnerable among us. While some of us might not be the targets of hateful violence, we must commit ourselves to ensuring all people can live without fear of being victimized for who they are. We have a responsibility to show up for our Muslim siblings, in Albuquerque and across the country. We must send a message that hate has no place in our communities. The constitutional promise of religious freedom will never be realized until all of us, regardless of faith or belief, can live, love, and worship free from discrimination. We all deserve to feel safe in our communities – no matter who we are, where we live or what we believe.