A 45-year-old south suburban man was charged with a hate crime after he called a Muslim-American civil rights advocate, said, “We will kill you,” and left his own phone number in the voicemail, prosecutors said Saturday.
Marvin Meyer, of Oak Forest, admitted calling the deputy director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ Chicago office on May 16, according to prosecutors. Meyer was charged with a felony count of a hate crime and a misdemeanor count of a telephone threat, Chicago police said.
“Hey. Guess what? This is America calling,” Meyer’s call to Sufyan Sohel’s office voicemail began, according to prosecutors. “You are not welcome here. Take your (double expletive) back to Syria. We will kill you.”
Sohel, an American-born attorney whose parents came to this country from India, oversees CAIR Chicago’s legal strategy. Prosecutors said he does not know Meyer.
The phone message insulted Allah and Democrats, according to prosecutors, who said Meyer not only gave out his phone number but also asked, “Do I seem afraid of you?”
After Sohel reported the incident, Chicago police obtained phone records showing Meyer as the only subscriber on the telephone account, authorities said.
At the Leighton Criminal Court Building, Judge James Brown ordered Meyer held on $75,000 bail and required him to wear an electronic monitoring device once released.
Sohel told the Tribune he was relieved about the charges. “I’m very happy with the seriousness the Chicago Police Department and Cook County state’s attorney’s office took in the matter,” he said.
Sohel said the incident highlights why many Muslim-Americans are increasingly concerned about anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant rhetoric.
Groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League have reported spikes in Anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic hate crimes in recent years. So far this year, CAIR Chicago has received about 400 calls reporting discrimination against Muslim-Americans, which is the group’s usual total for the entire year, Sohel said.
“His comments were very violent in nature,” said Sohel, “and he threatened to kill people, and that raised flags and that kind of shook me because when people use that sort of language, it made me both fearful for me and my team, but I also got a sense of being unwelcome in the only country that I’ve ever called home.”