NEW YORK (1010 WINS) – Over 60 religious leaders are joining New York City politicians in kicking off a citywide interfaith weekend aimed at combating hate crimes.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said the attack this week on Queens Imam Rob Peterson, 49, is especially disturbing.
“What would lead to you feel so confident in your own hatred that you think you have the right to act it out violently and to degrade someone’s religion,” Quinn said. “What happened to that imam was a crime, it will be punished to the fullest extent of the hate crimes law.”
City Councilman Robert Jackson said the alleged bias attack should be a wake up call to all New Yorkers.
“This is an intolerable situation,” Jackson said.
Eddie Crespo, a five-year MTA officer, and 30-year-old Albert Melendez, of Harlem, are charged with third degree assault as a hate crime and robbery.
Manhattan prosecutors say Melendez used an anti-Muslim insult before punching the victim in the face and throwing his religious hat onto the subway tracks Wednesday. Prosecutors say Crespo aided the attack.
Defense lawyers say Melendez and the man started fighting after bumping into each other, and Crespo tried to break up the scuffle.
Harlem Imam Souleimane Konaté said he feels like he was also violated.
“I feel so bad because I’m an imam myself and I can put myself in his shoes, that could’ve been me,” Canadi said.
Quinn is issuing a warning to prevent any copy cat attacks.
“We are not kidding around, we are not going to let people be attacked for who they are,” Quinn said.
The “Love Love Interfaith Weekend” will feature over 30 events across the city which will be held by City leaders, advocates, clergy and neighborhood leaders in schools, churches and synagogues.
“This weekend is about bringing together religious and other communities together to take one unified stance against hate,” said Quinn. “In the wake of the recent anti-Semitic attacks in Brooklyn, the anti-Mexican attacks in Staten Island and the anti-LGBT hate crimes in Manhattan and the Bronx, now more than ever we need to stand together. These events will bring all communities together to stand even stronger against hate violence.”
For a full list of events click here.