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Muslim family says man's threat to kill them in St. Louis County was hate crime

Muslim family says man's threat to kill them in St. Louis County was hate crime

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ST. LOUIS COUNTY • A Muslim family wants hate crime charges filed against a south St. Louis County man who allegedly threatened to shoot and kill them Sunday as they looked at a house for rent.

St. Louis County police are investigating the family’s claim that a man, 71, approached the Muslim couple and their four children shortly before noon and yelled, “You Muslim? All of you should die!”

Rabie Ayoub, 37, his wife, Marwah AbdulHussein, 30, and four children ages 3 to 11, of South County, were house-shopping on Sioux Drive when the man drove up and parked his vehicle nearby in a driveway in the 4800 block of Big Chief Drive.

He got out and started yelling obscenities at them, police said. AbdulHussein was wearing a hijab at the time.

The man walked onto the front porch of his home and allegedly yelled, “This state allows you to carry a gun and shoot you.” A police summary says he went inside, got a handgun and pointed it at Ayoub’s vehicle, and said, “You, your wife and your kids have to die. I’m going to take a picture of your plate and come hunt you down!”

Ayoub took a photo of the man carrying his pistol and also saw the man take a picture of Ayoub’s car and license plate with his phone, police said. The family called police, who took the man into custody and seized his handgun. He was released as police pursued charges Tuesday. He said Tuesday evening that, on the advice of his lawyer, he could not comment on the allegations.

Ayoub and his wife were joined by members of St. Louis’ Muslim community at a news conference Tuesday to condemn anti-Muslim speech and demand hate crime charges against the man.

Ayoub said Tuesday that his youngest children were having nightmares about getting shot. He said he was struggling to help them understand what had happened and was saddened. He said he had experienced violence in his home, Palestine.

“What I went through in my childhood, I don’t want them to see,” Ayoub said. “And sadly, they just saw it in this state.”

His wife, AbdulHussein, said she is “just a regular person” who works as a nurse and shouldn’t be targeted “because I have a piece of cloth on my head.”

“I looked at that guy and at that place, and all I was thinking was, ‘Which one of us is gonna get shot first?’” AbdulHussein said. “This has to stop, and our voices have to be heard.”

Faizan Syed, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in St. Louis, said at the news conference that the man’s actions are “completely unacceptable.”

“This crime was done against all American Muslims,” Syed said.

Syed said the man’s actions reflect growing anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States and in American political discourse.

“This type of rhetoric has consequences, and Rabie and his family are the latest victims of the mainstreaming of Islamophobia in this country,” Syed said.

Valerie Schremp Hahn of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.

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