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September 7th, 2010
03:56 PM ET

Attorney General to meet with faith leaders

Editor's Note: CNN Justice Producer Terry Frieden filed this report today about a meeting faith leaders are having with Attorney General Eric Holder later this afternoon.

Attorney General Eric Holder late Tuesday prepared to host a brief meeting with religious leaders concerned about hate crimes against American Muslims as the upcoming 9/11 terrorist attack anniversary coincides with the Muslim Eid-al-Fitr celebration.

Holder frequently meets privately with advocacy groups, minority representatives, and others wanting the ear of the nation’s top law enforcement official. As his crammed schedule allows, Holder–like many of his predecessors–quietly engages in such outreach to listen to concerns and calls for action, even when he may disagree with the message.

In this case, Holder agrees with the Muslim, Christian, and Jewish representatives who are seeking government backing to prevent acts of violence or offensive actions which may be directed toward the Muslim community. What the government can do, however, is another matter.

Holder plans to issue a strongly worded written statement following the meeting to endorse the message of tolerance and civility, and to emphasize the Justice Department commitment to strictly enforce hate crime laws.

Angry public denunciations of the Muslim faith, however, immediately bump up against First Amendment protections, leaving government civil rights lawyers with little room for action absent the commission of crimes.

Private meetings with the Attorney General in his office are prized, and often lead to a certain amount of Washington gamesmanship by those who win such access.

Tuesday the religious leaders are expected to emerge and declare they have won the full support and backing of the federal government in the campaign to stem anti-Muslim bias. Those who meet with an Attorney General are not about to suggest their demands were not met. They also suggest they were sought out for advice from the Attorney General. Indeed Tuesday, as DOJ officials indicated the faith leaders had requested the session, members of the religious delegation said it was Holder who wanted the meeting.

Holder seldom comments on such closed sessions, but because of burning public interest fueled by a mosque controversy near ground zero, a stabbing in New York, and a fire at a Tennessee mosque, the Justice Department will formally acknowledge the meeting and thank the participants for their views.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 'Ground zero mosque' • Holidays • Interfaith issues • Islam • Leaders • Muslim • Politics • Quran • Ramadan

soundoff (61 Responses)
  1. Sanders Kaufman

    I wonder how many innocent Americans are going to have to pay with their lives for what the Christians are doing?

    September 7, 2010 at 5:08 pm |
  2. mike

    I wouldn't mind all terrorist safe houses some people call mosques all burned down and I'd love to those islam people over there see the fairytale book burned as they burn our flag bible and kill americans like choping their head off. However if it put our soldiers in more harms way then maybe they shouldn't but if they do I'll take great pleasure in seeing those animaLs go crazy or crazier than they go on a daily basis

    September 7, 2010 at 5:05 pm |
    • Frogist

      @ mike : so what about the muslim soldiers in the US army? Or the Iraqi and Afghan forces who are also muslim and working with the soldiers? Do you take pleasure in harming them too? Or don't you get that this act is a deliberate affront to all muslims, even the ones who are your allies?

      September 8, 2010 at 11:23 am |
  3. NoTax

    When the teen black criminal kill old white lady for couple $ is it hate crime or not?

    September 7, 2010 at 4:58 pm |
    • Buster Bloodvessel

      No, if he left the money and peed on her it would be a hate crime.

      September 7, 2010 at 5:00 pm |
  4. Peacemaker

    Hate crimes are up, because way too much hate-speak is coming from the Conservatives and their "leaders" stand by in silence! Back in the 1920's the KKK had 3 million members in all 50 states, they had tremendous power and the majority of these Klan members were....... Republicans! The KKK hated: Blacks, Latinos, Gays, Catholic & Jews. They would have been against Muslims too, if the Muslim community had been larger.

    Beware America, of groups that promote hate, that pit one group against another; that hates anyone "different" from them. The line between a Democratic U.S.A. and a Fascist one, is thin and fragile!

    September 7, 2010 at 4:53 pm |
    • Greg

      Actually, the majority of Klan members in the 1920's were Democrats. Republicanism was much more popular in the North back then.

      September 7, 2010 at 5:03 pm |
    • RezPause

      Democratic U.S.A. ?? Have you taken a civics class? We are not a democracy. For example, if memory serves Obama lost the popular vote. He won via electoral college, hence we are a not a true democracy. All of that aside, can you prove "hate" crimes are on the rise? NOT that they are getting more press, but that they are on the rise? No. It is simply a convenient and political label for things that are already illegal. Frankly, I would've expected more pointed strategy from Holder but really, the entire Obama crew hasn't proven to be the sharpest knives in the drawer.

      September 7, 2010 at 5:06 pm |
    • Mark in the Heartland

      Yep, it is such a pitty that all those Republican governors of the southern states were using the National guard to stop the integration of their schools in the 1960's.
      How about all those conservative-appointed Supreme Court Justices siding with slavery in the Dred Scott case?
      Try learning some historical facts – it was the liberal side that was the more racist throughout most of this country's history.

      September 7, 2010 at 5:12 pm |
    • Sam

      "Back in the 1920's the KKK had 3 million members in all 50 states, they had tremendous power and the majority of these Klan members were....... Republicans!" Mwah ha ha ha ha! Is it make up facts day? I'll bet you consider yourself a polymath. You are truly a Liberal.

      September 7, 2010 at 5:18 pm |
    • Greg

      Just to get our facts straight, here's a clip from Wikipedia:
      . . .This followed violence and fraud in southern elections in 1876, which had reduced black voter turnout and enabled Southern white Democrats to regain power in state legislatures across the South. The compromise and withdrawal of Federal troops meant that white Democrats had more freedom to impose and enforce discriminatory practices. Many African Americans responded to the withdrawal of federal troops by leaving the South in what is known as the Kansas Exodus of 1879.
      The Radical Republicans, who spearheaded Reconstruction, had attempted to eliminate both governmental and private discrimination by legislation.

      September 7, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
  5. Steve

    Hate crime is a corrupted verbage unless one's concept of love is corrupted.

    September 7, 2010 at 4:52 pm |
  6. Matt McHugh

    Intimidation. Assault. Battery. Manslaughter. Murder. These are hate crimes. Motivation is irrelevant; it's the action alone that should be judged by the law. If you attack someone because of their religion or because they took your parking space, the crime - and punishment - should be the same. Hate crime legislation is unnecessary, condescending, political twaddle.

    September 7, 2010 at 4:50 pm |
  7. Ferdinand of Castille

    Can somebody please dig up this Mohamad mess and kill it once again. It is not dead yet!!

    September 7, 2010 at 4:46 pm |
  8. kafir

    It's doubtful that there is any real danger to the muslim community. We don't typically behave like muslims. Besides, there are more hate crimes against Jews than muslims in USA anyway according to FBI statistics. But it does the muslim community good to pretend to be "victims", and they play it well. The reason that this is such a hot topic is because everyone is fearful that if the muslims feel that their sensibilities have been harmed, they'll become violent. It's all in the koran. Give it a read!!

    September 7, 2010 at 4:46 pm |
    • Greg

      correction. There are more reported hate crimes against Jews than Muslims. And if your race had been nearly exterminated, you'd probably report crimes more frequently, too. While I don't support the mosque, it's pretty clear that anti-muslim sentiment is extremely high in America. Nobody accuses the president of being Jewish as a way of denigrating him.

      September 7, 2010 at 4:58 pm |
  9. Anonamoose

    The attacks on the twin towers were acts of terrorism, or just heinous crimes? We elevated the criminals to terrorists. We should have labeled them cowardly thugs, tried their accomplaces in federal courts, and put them in US prisons, and taken all the air out of their balloons. Instead, we made them a cause, made them from nothing into "something".... then we invaded Iraq without justification and gave them not only satisfaction but a recruiting and live fire training area to work with. We Blew It.

    September 7, 2010 at 4:44 pm |
  10. Hud

    Adding "hate" to a crime gives politicians a way to reach out to a made up demographic come election time – nothing more!

    September 7, 2010 at 4:43 pm |
    • RezPause

      Exactly. Remember, most politicians (left or right) are still concerned primarily with their income. They will do what the have to to stay employed, including adding more labels to things that are already illegal.

      September 7, 2010 at 4:59 pm |
  11. Anonamoose

    How do we define terrorism again? "The calculated use of unlawful violence or threat of unlawful violence to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological." (DoD's definition) Hmmm, seems like some of these attacks against the Muslim facilities and people could be construed as acts of terrorism. IF a Muslim did these things to a Christian, we'd be raising terrorism alert levels...

    September 7, 2010 at 4:42 pm |
    • Frogist

      @ Anonamoose: True dat. Can you imagine if a mosque was holding a Burn A Bible day and they were being protected by armed muslim militia? There's a double standard there somewhere.

      September 8, 2010 at 11:00 am |
  12. Mark

    When religion in general and Islam in particular start giving me reasons NOT to hate them and their followers, then I will.

    September 7, 2010 at 4:42 pm |
  13. Wonder Why

    Isn't every crime really a hate crime? Why do we have to have classes of victims? Why are we so worried about anit-Muslim sentiment when we aren't worried about anti-Christian sentiment, or racial crimes at voting places?

    September 7, 2010 at 4:40 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Wonder Why: Actually, no. Every crime is not motivated by hate. If I steal a carton of milk, I might be hungry and just want food. If I kill you because you're black and I make it known my intention is to kill black people cuz they're black, that's a bit different. You might have noticed that the anti-muslim sentiment is very high and because of that we as a country have the responsibility to address that issue before anything happens. If there is anti-christian sentiment, I am very much unaware of it. If you post examples, I might be able to better understand your viewpoint. As for "racial crimes" at voting places, I think you might have to post examples of that too. Also, as always, if you are aware of crimes occuring in your area, you should contact your local authorities.

      September 8, 2010 at 10:50 am |
  14. Rufus

    Burn baby Burn...i'll bring the gas and BBQ starter...

    September 7, 2010 at 4:39 pm |
  15. Willis

    Holder is a tool and an idiot. I can't wait for another "strongly worded statement" or a "teachable moment" from our head law enforcement official or his cronies.

    September 7, 2010 at 4:37 pm |
  16. Chris

    rufus... It should be a crime to hate what Obama tells you not to hate? What are you, 12 years old?
    p.s. I hate you, and I hate Obama, his policies, his attorney general, his wife, and everyone in his cabinet.
    Have a nice day.

    September 7, 2010 at 4:36 pm |
    • NoTax

      I also hate tax that liberals and Obama apply for working people of America, I hate liberals international policy, I hate muslim terrorists which kill womwen and kids too

      September 7, 2010 at 4:57 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Chris and No Tax: Wow, how long have you been holding that in? You two must feel so much better now that your true stance is out in the open for everyone to see.

      September 8, 2010 at 10:55 am |
  17. Greg G.

    Hate is just a subjective term for a strong disliking. If it goes against your values you will find yourself "hating" it regardless if you admit to it or not. I often find the word hate used by people in a negative way that seem to have not given it too much thought.

    September 7, 2010 at 4:28 pm |
  18. Bensky

    The Attorney General may have been a little slow on the uptake, but at least he is taking a stand. See my earlier posts on CNN and ABC calling on the FBI and DoJ to label these latest acts as hate crimes. Although bigotry and intolerance is part of the history of some in this country, it is not among the precepts America was founded upon. And, unfortunately, far too many lack the resolve and bravery enough to step up to the plate and denounce true unreasonable hatred when they encounter it.

    September 7, 2010 at 4:26 pm |
    • Willis

      If it's OK with you I'll bring you some cookies tomorrow for being so forward thinking and perceptive?

      September 7, 2010 at 4:39 pm |
    • Peacemaker

      Your comment is spot on! In a Free, Democratic nation, there is no room for groups who promote hate. Peace.

      September 7, 2010 at 4:55 pm |
    • Greg

      in a free, democratic nation, there's supposed to be room for everyone. Otherwise, it wouldn't really be free, would it?

      September 7, 2010 at 5:08 pm |
    • TammyB

      Saying you hate something, and then doing something to hurt someone because of that hate are two separate things. We still have free speech in this country. I absolutely hate the KKK, white supremacists, neo-nazis, etc., or any other group that wishes to separate the races, however, they have a right in this country to speak out, rally, protest, distribute pamphlets with their thoughts, and write books. I don't agree with them, however, if I want my voice heard, I have to allow that everyone have a voice to hear. So long as they don't commit any crimes against the group they hate, such as bombing, stabbing, property crimes, and such, just expressing their opinion is not enough to call it a hate crime. And although I don't believe in the Pastor that's burning the Qurans, he has the right to speak his mind. Now, he didn't get a burn permit, so it will be against the law for what he's doing, on a municipal level. And so long as he's not pushing Muslims down and stealing their Qurans, he's going to be allowed to do it, with some fines and a big fat ticket.

      September 7, 2010 at 5:36 pm |
    • Stephen

      Greg...you hit the target!

      September 7, 2010 at 5:38 pm |
  19. bill

    I don't think the fact that someone was targeted for their faith or race or sexual preference is a reason to set those crimes and punishments apart from other crimes. All this does is breed more animositiy toward those groups – much like buring the Quran.

    September 7, 2010 at 4:23 pm |
  20. rufus

    It should be a crime to hate. Or, at least to hate something that the administration does not want you to hate. We need to allow Pres. Obama to rule effectively and this would allow him to do so.

    September 7, 2010 at 4:21 pm |
    • RezPause

      Playing Devil's Advocate here, why should our elected representatives be allowed to label someone a criminal when they voice opinions that those with lesser character label "hate" with knee-jerk effectiveness. When it turns physical, well, bombing any building is already a crime. Stabbing someone is already a crime. Why make it more of a crime because it happens to be a base for a certain sect or religion? Where is the separation of church and state? Oh wait, voters and campaign dollars require the simple appearance of making a difference... That's right...

      September 7, 2010 at 4:34 pm |
    • Austin

      That's the most frightening comment I've ever heard in my life. Our republic is over if that view ever becomes law.

      September 7, 2010 at 4:39 pm |
    • Willis

      I agree rufus, the 1st amendment need only apply to liberals. Conservatives do not need freedom of speech – when we want their opinion, we'll give it to them at the time and place of our choosing.

      September 7, 2010 at 4:41 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      I am REALLY trying hard to understand your concept. You would wish to outlaw an emotion?
      I can understand "hateful words", I can understand "hateful acts", there are statutes in place for violent actions and acts of intimidation that are described as "hate crimes".
      There is also a doctrine called "Fighting Words Doctrine", where in "written or spoken words, generally expressed to incite hatred or violence from their target." (from Wikipedia, as their language was far clearer than what I originally typed).
      That is present in MANY jurisdictions. Unfortunately, it is NOT in Federal Statute, so it's up to the states to write such laws.
      AND such statutes HAVE been upheld by the US Supreme Court.

      September 7, 2010 at 4:44 pm |
    • Greg

      I'm sorry, but is this 1984? Have we really come to this point in America?

      September 7, 2010 at 4:50 pm |
    • Buster Bloodvessel

      Actually, that's an incredibly dumb idea. Were you attempting a joke?

      September 7, 2010 at 4:58 pm |
    • Buster Bloodvessel

      Rez, the elected representatives don't label something a hate crime. That's up to the judge. Why? Are you planning a crime and want to stay within reasonable bounds?

      September 7, 2010 at 5:00 pm |
    • Cam

      Rofl y'all got trolled hard.

      September 7, 2010 at 5:04 pm |
    • Mark in the Heartland

      So it should be a crime to hate something the administration does not want you to hate?
      Do you rant at those who follow FoxNews or Rush and believe everything hook-line-and-sinker? Your comment is doing the samething – just putting Obama in place of Rush.
      The Thought Police will be after me then – because I refuse to allow the government to tell me what to like or hate (regardless of the politcal sect in charge).

      September 7, 2010 at 5:06 pm |
    • RezPause

      Buster, cute but your assertion that I'm planning something is akin to "why do you mind having your phone taped? are you planning something?" If you believe judges aren't political figures and aren't elected you need to read up. At the highest level they are appointed but USUALLY lower level judges that USUALLY end up in higher places have to be elected.

      September 7, 2010 at 5:11 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      Buster Bloodvessel, you are incorrect. Judges don't label a crime a hate crime, statute does. The judge determines if a crime was committed, if it "fits" the statute AND if the statute is constitutional.
      Statute is written by our elected representatives.

      September 7, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
    • Stephen

      Very, very, very slippery slope!

      September 7, 2010 at 5:36 pm |
    • Frogist

      @RezPause: Actually we already have a number of modifications we place on crimes as it is. Killing someone else is often interpreted by intent. So an accidental killing is treated differently than an intentional one. Intention is important in interpreting how we sentence a crime as well. It is not beyond reason to bring up the intention of someone to kill, maim or otherwise when that intent is motivated by race, religious or other bias against a group.
      I don't understand your invoking the separation of church and state here. We are talking about crime which is well inside the state's jurisdiction. As for voters and campaign dollars, I fail to see how acting in favor of the rights of muslims is gaining anyone a majority of votes. It is a risky proposition because the majority of americans seem to be on the opposing side of the rights of muslims to worship freely.

      September 8, 2010 at 10:37 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.