Criminal Justice

Man who sent lynching imagery to Muslim lawyer via Twitter faces up to 5 years in prison

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A North Carolina man has been charged with issuing a threat via interstate commerce—and faces up to five years in prison—after sending an image of a man who had been lynched and the words “view your destiny” to a Muslim lawyer on Twitter.

Qasim Rashid, who is also a Democratic candidate for a seat in Virginia’s Senate, did not know who wrote the tweet in March 2018, and he reported it to Twitter and the FBI. A June 20 indictment in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina revealed that Joseph Cecil Vandevere of Black Mountain, North Carolina, was behind the threat, which also included the words “Muslim scum,” the New York Times reports. The Washington Post also has coverage.

Rashid, who moved to the United States from Pakistan in 1987 with his family, told the New York Times that he is no stranger to threatening language. While online threats have been intimidating, he said “it actually made me reflect and understand why I am a human rights lawyer, and why I am running for office.”

“To uplift and protect marginalized communities is what I believe public service should be doing,” he added.

After Rashid received the tweet from @DaDUTCHMAN5, Vandevere’s account, he posted a screenshot and flagged it for Twitter: “Hey @twitter this white supremacist @DaDUTCHMAN5 is threatening me with lynching b/c I am a Muslim. Please tell me this violates your terms & conditions?” He included the hashtag “WhereWasHeRadicalized?”

Twitter has suspended Vandevere’s account, the Washington Post reports.

Updated on July 3 to change the headline.

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