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Lebanese-American killed by neigbour in suspected ‘anti-Muslim hate crime’

Victim of anti-Muslim killing, Khalid Jabara. Photo credit: Al Jazeera

Over the weekend, an Imam and his friend were shot and killed in broad daylight in New York City as they left a local mosque after mid-afternoon prayers.

A Lebanese-American, Khalid Jabara, has been shot dead by his neighbour Stanley Vernon Majors who had allegedly used violence and racial insult against the family for years, Al Jazeera reported on Tuesday.

Khalid Jabara, 37, was shot and killed on his front porch in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Friday.

The 61-year-old Majors was arrested and he is expected to be charged with first-degree murder later this week.

 

“My family lived in fear of this man and his hatred for years,” read a family statement shared online by Jabara’s sister, Victoria Jabara Williams, on Monday.

Majors was awaiting trial for allegedly hitting Jabara’s mother, Haifa, with his car September, 2015, which caused her numerous injuries. He was released on bond in May.

“Only 30 minutes prior to my brother’s shooting, Khalid called the police stating this man had a gun and that he was scared for what might happen. The police came and told him there was nothing to be done,” the family’s statement said.

 

The family said Majors repeatedly used anti- Arab slurs against them, including calling them “dirty Arabs”, “filthy Lebanese”, “Aye- rabs”, and “Mooslems”.

But police and law enforcement officials in Tulsa have said it’s too early to say whether Majors will be charged with a hate crime, according to local media.

“Today, in our pain, we are also keenly aware that this is not just another murder to be added to crime statistics. Our brother’s death could have been prevented. This man was a known danger,” the family’s statement read.

 

Anti-Muslim analysis by Al Jazeera

Veronia Laizure, civil rights director at the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ (CAIR) Oklahoma chapter, said the shooting was likely motivated by anti- Arab bigotry and it is indicative of a larger problem of anti-Arab xenophobia in the US.

“This isn’t even the first time that anti-Muslim sentiment has resulted in this kind of tragic loss of life.”

“A year and a half ago, there were three young Muslims who were brutally murdered by their own neighbour after a series of incidents where their neighbour said similar hateful things about what he perceived to be their religion and their ethnicity.”

In February 2015, Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, his wife, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, were shot and killed in their home near the University of North Carolina.

Over the weekend, an Imam and his friend were shot and killed in broad daylight in New York City as they left a local mosque after mid-afternoon prayers.

Anti-Muslim hate crimes have also risen alongside anti-Muslim rhetoric linked to the US presidential election campaign, according to a recent report put out by The Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has advocated for a ban on all Muslims entering the country, for instance.

 

‘Rising Islamophobia’

Last year, 174 instances of anti-Muslim violence were reported across the US, signaling that “the 2016 US presidential season began against a backdrop of already rising Islamophobia”, the report found.

Laizure said the Jabara case raises serious questions about how someone like Majors “was able to continue to harass and threaten” the family and others in the neighbourhood.

Meanwhile, she said CAIR-Oklahoma was respecting the family’s request for privacy and was working to mobilise community groups to support them at this difficult time.

An online fundraiser launched on Monday in support of the Jabaras had raised $2,500 by midday Tuesday.

The family, meanwhile, said their “world was shattered” when Khalid was killed.

“He was a kind spirit, loving brother, uncle and son. Khalid’s heart was big. He cared for our entire family, our friends and people he didn’t even know. He created every Jabara family joke and filled our lives with love and laughter,” the family’s statement reads.

“All of that has been taken away from us by this hateful man and a system that failed to protect our community.”

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