A St. Petersburg man faces a hate crime accusation after deputies say he stabbed a man because he is Muslim.
Bradley Kent Strott, 52, and Samad Ebadi were at Marsha's Wayside Inn bar, at 4021 54th Ave. N. in St. Petersburg, about 7:30 p.m. Friday, talking about religion, according to a Pinellas County Sheriff's Office arrest report.
Strott got angry after Ebadi said he followed the Islamic faith. Strott then grabbed Ebadi by the shirt and stabbed him in the neck with a pocket knife, the report states.
Then Strott told Ebadi that "Muslims are the root of the problems," according to the report.
According to that report, Ebadi "is OK and wasn't seriously hurt," but that seems more a matter of luck than anything. It certainly wasn't because people rushed immediately to his aid. Another report tells us that Ebadi's son was told his father had been stabbed next door and ran over to find him "pale-faced and slumped over a bar stool with his shirt dark with blood."
"Nobody was doing anything," Samad Ebadi said. "Nobody was calling 911. It's like they didn't want to deal with the hassle. They didn't care if he died right there."
Amazingly, Strott was released on $15,000 bail. According to Reuters, "Ebadi said he was shocked when he found out Strott had been released on bail and thought Strott should have been charged with attempted murder."
"Elected officials in Florida and nationwide must begin to address the rising level of Islamophobia in our society that can lead to violent incidents or acts of discrimination targeting ordinary Muslims," said Ramzy Kiliç of the Tampa chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Kiliç believes the attack on Ebadi is just the latest in a growing trend and CAIR is working with local law enforcement to get a hate crime added to Strout's charges. According to CAIR, "Other recent hate incidents targeting American Muslim institutions and houses of worship... have included an arson attack on an Oregon mosque; an arson attack on a mosque in Texas; threats against an Islamic school in Oklahoma; a bias attack outside an Ohio mosque; shots fired outside a New York mosque; an arson attack on the site of a planned mosque in Tennessee; a threat to a previously-bombed Ohio mosque; the defacement of a South Carolina mosque; hate mail sent to mosques, Islamic centers and Muslim organizations in Michigan and Ohio; and a bomb attack at a Florida mosque in May of last year."
Imagine if the situation in that last incident were reversed, if a Christian church were pipe-bombed -- with parishioners inside -- and anti-Christian bias was the suspected motive. Fox News, for one, would make it their lead story for a month at least, while talk radio hosts would be deep in hysteria over it. But the reverse wasn't what happened and, as a result, the average person probably doesn't even know it ever happened. I suppose it's like missing white girl stories vs. missing black girls. A young black woman missing is a local story, while a missing white woman is a national story and a TV movie of the week.
Likewise, "White guys stabs middle eastern Muslim" is local news, while "Middle eastern Muslim stabs white guy" would be a national tragedy.
It'd be nice if we could have a national conversation about anti-Muslim hate in this country, but for that to happen, we'd first have to have a media who admit it exists.
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