In the wake of several terrorist attacks around the world, one local county sheriff’s officer unleashed a rant against Muslims on Facebook that has led to his being put on leave.
Terrorist attacks by Isis and Al Qeada have led to some anti-Muslim sentiment in this country, including by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who has said people practicing the religion should be barred from immigrating to the United States. But others have pointed out that people practicing the religion of Islam are not responsible for their more extreme counterparts and should not be the target of prejudice.
Last month, County Sherrif’s Officer Alex Pino allegedly made anti-Muslim comments on the Facebook page of a friend during a political discussion. According to published reports, he made the comments because a Memorial High School history teacher and West New York Zoning Board member, Moe Elmaksoud, a Muslim-American, had angered him with a previous post.
“It is absolutely unacceptable to me for any member of this department to disparage any race, religion or ethnic group.” – Sheriff Frank Schillari
He continued in all caps, “(EXPLETIVE) THE KORAN (EXPLETIVE) THE MUSLIMS (EXPLETIVE) THE TERRORIST. TRUMP FOR PRESIDENT. (EXPLETIVE) ON THE MOSQUES. TEAR THEM ALL DOWN. WE SCCOMMODATE TOO MANY OF THOSE PEOPLE HERE. FOLLOW OUR KAWS (expletive) IN PLACE…OH MR. MOHAMED…YOURE OFFENDED ,?,? Good. Get out of my country, yes MY (EXPLETIVE) COUNTRY…”
Published reports state the two men, Pino and Elmaksoud, are acquaintances who go to the same barbershop in West New York and are both Memorial High School alumni.
Ellmaksoud did not respond to phone calls from the Reporter seeking comment last week.
But the week before, Elmaksoud told other media outlets that while he wanted the officer to be reprimanded he didn’t want him to be fired. He added that Pino later apologized in a Facebook message.
Pino did not respond to comment by press time, but told NJ.com, “We’re entitled to our opinions, and I had mine. I’m tired of being bashed all the time. I’m in fear for my life … I have to protect my family, my children. I can’t take them to a movie theater because I’m afraid about what’s going to happen.”
The officer, who is also a disabled veteran and served in the Iraq war three times, added, “I was not directing that toward the good Muslims, I was directing that toward the terrorists … I’m completely against hurting people.
“It was taken the wrong way. I should have [explained myself] more in detail. All ‘Muslims’ is wrong. Now the good Muslims are taking severe offense to that. That was not my intention.”
Put on leave
The Hudson County Sherriff’s Office has launched an internal investigation following Officer Pino’s alleged comments on the social media site. He has been placed on administrative leave with pay and had his service weapon withdrawn.
“Comments like these are in no way reflective of my views or the views of the Hudson County Sheriff’s Office and they run contrary to our mission of making Hudson County safer for everyone,” said Sheriff Frank X. Schillari in a press release.
J.P. Escobar, the contact for the investigation, told the West New York Reporter last week that, “The investigation into Alex Pino is still ongoing, as of now we have no updates.”
The statement from Schillari continued, “We are taking this matter very seriously and we are conducting a full investigation. It is absolutely unacceptable to me for any member of this department to disparage any race, religion or ethnic group no matter the forum or the medium. As officers of the law we must be held to a higher standard and I intend to do everything in my power to make sure that all residents of Hudson County know that the Sheriff’s Office stands for professionalism and respect for our entire community above all else. The Hudson County Sherriff’s Office boasts of a long record with close ties to the Muslim community in Hudson County and said it “places tremendous value on building strong community relationships.”
In an effort to reaffirm a positive rapport following the rants, Schillari said he has opened dialogue with Muslim leaders in Hudson County.
Steven Rodas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.