Attorney General Loretta Lynch told a group of Muslims in Washington last night that her ‘greatest fear’ since the Paris terror attack is retaliatory violence against members of the religion.
Lynch said as a prosecutor, she worries that the anti-Muslim rhetoric ‘will be accompanied by acts of violence,’ and said, ‘We cannot give in to the fear that these backlashes are really based on.’
Politico reports that Lynch did not mention the Wednesday shooting in San Bernardino, California, that was committed by two Muslims and is currently under investigation by the FBI during her remarks, while urging Americans of all backgrounds not to give into violent impulses.
Shooters suspected of having international terrorism ties fired upon an office holiday party, massacring 14.
The husband and wife team, Syed Rizwan Farook and Pakistan-born green card holder Tashfeen Malik, fled the scene and were later killed in a confrontation with police.
President Barack Obama said yesterday that the government had not determined the motives behind the shooters.
‘It is possible that this was terrorist-related, but we don’t know. It’s also possible that this was workplace-related,’ he said in a statement from the Oval Office.
Surrounded by Lynch and FBI Director James Comey, whose department is leading the investigation, as well as the vice president and other members of his national security team, the president said, ‘Our expectation is, is that this may take some time before we’re able to sort it all through.’
Afterward, Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee hit Obama in a hard-charging statement for not declaring what the former Fox News host said was obvious.
‘It doesn’t take a Harvard law degree to identify the inspiration and source of the San Bernardino slaughter: radical Islamic terrorism,’ Huckabee said. ‘Concealing the truth and ignoring the obvious for the simple sake of a pro-Islam public relations campaign is an insult to the American people.’
Donald Trump also said that the mass shooting appeared to be an Islamic terrorist attack yesterday, according to ABC News.
‘Take a look. I mean, you look at the names, you look at what’s happened. You tell me,’ he said of the couple, who met online and married in 2013.
Farook, a U.S. citizen, brought Malik over on a fiance visa from Saudi Arabia, and she later became a permanent legal U.S. resident.
The mass murder took place at Inland Regional Center where Farook’s employer, the San Bernardino County health department, was having its holiday party.
The couple did not leave any explanation for their actions, but law enforcement authorities have determined that Farook was in contact with at least one suspected terrorist.
Speaking broadly on Thursday about religious tensions in America, Lynch told attendees of Muslim Advocate’s 10th anniversary dinner that she had observed an ‘incredibly disturbing rise of anti-Muslim rhetoric’ in the wake of the ISIS assault on Paris and the talk ‘edges towards violence.’
In the weeks that have followed the onslaught American mosques have been vandalized, and in at least one case fired upon, and Muslim believers have been repeatedly threatened with acts of violence.
‘When we talk about the First amendment we [must] make it clear that actions predicated on violent talk are not American. They are not who we are, they are not what we do, and they will be prosecuted,’ Lynch said, according to Buzzfeed.
She derided congressional attempts to keep refugees from ISIS-ravaged Syria and a House-passed bill that would require federal agencies to swear the migrants are not radicals.
‘You know, this is not the way,’ she said, per Politico’s report. ‘I will look at anything and consider anything that will keep the American people safe but . . . you take aggressive action you don’t take impetuous action.’
Lynch said the country ‘cannot be ruled by fear’.
‘When we are ruled by fear, we actually are not making ourselves safe,’ she said. ‘My message to the Muslim community is we stand with you in this.’