Some Muslims feel targeted after Phila. school kidnapping

February 2, 2013 3:27:23 AM PST
The Muslim community in Philadelphia held a meeting venting frustrations over people committing crimes dressed in traditional Muslim garb.

"We have a right to wear a face veil if we choose to, that's our right, our God-given right," said Alia Walker.

Muslim women in West Philadelphia are becoming increasingly fearful.

This as the pressure mounts for the capture of the woman dressed in Muslim garb and her accomplice, who kidnapped a 5-year-old girl from her classroom and brutally assaulted her.

"Right now, a lot of the Muslim sisters are saying, 'People are walking around looking at them cross-eyed.' They haven't done anything wrong," said Rep. Ron Waters.

At a standing room only meeting to discuss the matter, Muslims expressed outrage that it's happening again and again.

Criminals have been committing crimes disguised as Muslim women - robbing banks, stores and now kidnapping. Violent crimes they fear put Muslim women in danger.

"We consider anyone dressing up like a Muslim woman perpetrating a hate crime," said Iman Asim Abdul Rashid.

Back in April, he led a coalition of Muslim and political leaders to offer a $20,000 reward for anyone committing a crime dressed as a Muslim woman.

Who would imagine that less than a year later, someone dressed in Muslim garb would kidnap his own granddaughter from her classroom at Bryant Elementary and violently assault her.

Putting his personal anger aside, Rashid has become more adamant to do something about people committing crimes disguised as Muslim women.

"It's discrimination and it's hate because it brings distrust, mistrust and suspicion and it puts our women in danger," said Rashid.

State Rep. Waters plans on introducing legislation in Harrisburg that would make it a crime, punishable by up to five years in jail, for anyone wearing religious garb to commit a crime, no matter what the religion.

"We need to protect people from being subjected to the ramifications of this type of behavior. We also need to punish the perpetrators who commit such a crime," said Rep. Waters.

Rep. Waters is now working on garnering support among his colleagues in Harrisburg. He says he is optimistic in getting something passed to deal with this growing problem.