Florida man indicted for threatening Muslim civil rights organization

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Florida man indicted for threatening Muslim civil rights organization

March 5 (UPI) — A Florida man has been indicted on charges of threatening to kill members of a Michigan Muslim civil rights organization almost two months after he was arrested for threatening to murder Democrat Rep. Eric Swalwell and his family.

Michael Shapiro, 72, of West Palm Beach, was originally arrested in early January after allegedly leaving Swalwell five threatening voicemails on Dec. 19.

In the indictment announced Tuesday, the senior was accused of leaving three separate phone calls to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Michigan Chapter on Dec. 8, 14 and 15, just days before he is alleged to have called Swalwell.

According to federal prosecutors, Shapiro repeatedly threatened to kill Muslim members of CAIR, whom he repeatedly called “bastards” and other expletives.

“You’re all violent people. Why do you come to America? Why do you come to Europe?” Shapiro said on Dec. 15, according to an excerpt of the voicemail included in the indictment. “You’re violent. You’re killers. You’re rapists. I’m going to kill you [explitives]!”

If convicted, Shapiro faces up to 10 years’ imprisonment for each count he faces.

“Today’s charges should serve as a warning that those who threaten violence, especially when they intend to instill fear on an entire community, will be identified, investigated and aggressively prosecuted,” U.S. Attorney Dawn Ison of the Eastern District of Michigan said Tuesday in a statement.

Though not included in the indictment, CAIR accused Shapiro of telling them to “go back to Palestine” while parroting Israel government officials who have called Palestinians “animals.”

The phone calls were made two months after Hamas‘ Oct. 7th attack on Israel, which ignited Israel’s ongoing war in the Palestinian enclave of Gaza.

The attack and subsequent war have seen a surge in both anti-semitism and anti-Muslim bias.

The Jewish organization the Anti-Defamation League said last month that anti-semitic incidents in the United States have “skyrocketed” 360% since.

Meanwhile, CAIR said that in the three months of October, November and December, it received more than 3,500 complaints of anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian hate, representing a nearly 180% increase over the same period a year prior.

CAIR said Tuesday that it “welcomes” the announcement of new charges against Shapiro.

“Incidents of hate have increased against Muslims in Michigan and all throughout America since the events of Oct. 7, 2023. This incident appears on its face to be driven by not only the genocide in Gaza, but also by the immensely anti-Muslim media coverage that followed it,” CAIR-MI Executive Director Dawud Walid said in a statement.

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