Man in US killed in suspected ‘anti-Arab hate crime’

Neighbour shoots dead Lebanese-American man after years of alleged violence and racial slurs against Arab family.

Khalid Jabara
Anti-Muslim hate crimes have risen alongside anti-Muslim rhetoric [Courtesy of the Jabara family]

Arab communities in the United States are in shock after a Lebanese-American man was shot and killed by a neighbour who had allegedly used violence and racial slurs against the family for years.

Khalid Jabara, 37, was shot and killed on his front porch in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Friday.

The family’s neighbour, 61-year-old Stanley Vernon Majors, was arrested and he is expected to be charged with first-degree murder later this week, Tulsa police said.

“My family lived in fear of this man and his hatred for years,” read a family statement shared online by Jabara’s sister, Victoria Jabara Williams, on Monday.

Majors was awaiting trial for aggravated assault after allegedly hitting Jabara’s mother, Haifa, with his car last September, which caused her numerous injuries. He was released on bail in May.

“Only 30 minutes prior to my brother’s shooting, Khalid called the police stating this man had a gun and that he was scared for what might happen. The police came and told him there was nothing to be done,” the family’s statement said.

The family said Majors repeatedly used anti-Arab slurs against them, including calling them “dirty Arabs”, “filthy Lebanese”, “Aye-rabs”, and “Mooslems”.

A spokesperson for the Tulsa police department told Al Jazeera it was too early in the investigation to say whether Majors will be charged with a hate crime.

Police confirmed in a statement that officers had responded to a call from Jabara the evening he was killed. “Officers arrived at the location and were unable to locate any criminal activity. Officers then left the scene,” the police said.

Tulsa police also confirmed that Jabara’s mother had a protective order out against Majors, which ordered him to stay away from her and her home, and that he had “a criminal history” with his neighbours.

“Today, in our pain, we are also keenly aware that this is not just another murder to be added to crime statistics. Our brother’s death could have been prevented. This man was a known danger,” the family’s statement read.

‘Not the first time’

Veronica Laizure, civil rights director at the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ (CAIR) Oklahoma chapter, said the shooting was probably motivated by anti-Arab bigotry and it is indicative of a larger problem of anti-Arab xenophobia in the United States.

“This isn’t even the first time that anti-Muslim sentiment has resulted in this kind of tragic loss of life,” Laizure told Al Jazeera on Tuesday.

“A year and a half ago, three young Muslims were brutally murdered by their own neighbour after a series of incidents where their neighbour said similar hateful things about what he perceived to be their religion and their ethnicity.”

In February 2015, Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, his wife, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, were shot and killed in their home near the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Over the weekend, an imam and his friend were shot and killed in broad daylight in New York City as they left a  mosque after mid-afternoon prayers.

Anti-Muslim hate crimes have also risen alongside anti-Muslim rhetoric linked to the US presidential election campaign, according to a recent report put out by The Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has advocated a ban on all Muslims entering the country, for instance.

‘Rising Islamophobia’

Last year, 174 instances of anti-Muslim violence were reported across the US, signalling that “the 2016 US presidential season began against a backdrop of already rising Islamophobia”, the report found.

Laizure said the Jabara case raised serious questions about how someone like Majors “was able to continue to harass and threaten” the family and others in the neighbourhood.

Meanwhile, she said CAIR-Oklahoma was respecting the family’s request for privacy and was working to mobilise community groups to support them at this difficult time.

An online fundraiser, launched on Monday in support of the Jabaras, had raised $2,500 by midday on Tuesday.

The family, meanwhile, said their “world was shattered” when Khalid was killed.

“He was a kind spirit, loving brother, uncle and son. Khalid’s heart was big. He cared for our entire family, our friends and people he didn’t even know. He created every Jabara family joke and filled our lives with love and laughter,” the family’s statement reads.

“All of that has been taken away from us by this hateful man and a system that failed to protect our community.”

Source: Al Jazeera