U.S. Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez said in a statement that “Crimes perpetrated against people because of who they are or what they believe simply cannot be tolerated.”
Asgar has also filed a civil suit against Howard as well as another neighbor, his lawyer Randi Morales said.
The incident with Asgar came amid an uptick of hate crimes in 2016, which raised concern among anti-hate groups about what effect President Donald Trump’s campaign and election, with its racially and ethnically charged rhetoric and policy initiatives, was having domestically. In 2016, about one in five of those hate crimes targeted a person’s religion, a quarter of those Muslims. Attacks on Muslims had risen 67 percent in 2015, and then another 19 percent in 2016, making it the year with the highest number of hate crimes against Muslims since 2001, the year of the 9/11 attacks. The FBI has yet to release its statistics for 2017.
Of 1,094 bias-related incidents that the Southern Poverty Law Center tracked in the month after Trump’s election, 134 took place at private homes, according to a report from the National Fair Housing Alliance, which it said raised concerns about whether bias crimes were bleeding into housing discrimination.
“At least with this message from the court and the Justice Department, we will feel more safer in searching for our new home,” Asgar said. “This was a painful journey. So much emotional distress and many worries.”