NEW YORK – Pennsylvanian state representative Movita Johnson-Harrell was subject of another attack this week.
On Wednesday March 27, she received a message from Susan Cohen filled with xenophobic hate speech.
In her message, Cohen demanded that Johnson-Harrell, an African American Muslim woman, “assimilate here” and “remove your hijab” when she is in “the people’s house,” an apparent reference to the Pennsylvania state capitol building.
The Arizona real estate agent also asserted that Rep. Johnson-Harrell’s hijab is “offensive to all Americans” and claimed the US is a “Judeo-Christian nation.”
According to a recent Pew survey, there are over three-million Muslims in the United States. One-fifth of the country’s Muslim population identifies as Black, of which the majority (sixty-nine percent) are born in US.
Cohen ended her message telling Johnson-Harrell that, “You are in the United States of America. Start acting like it, or to you [sic] where Shari’s is acceptable” along with the declaration “Shari’s Law will never be a part of our great nation” with a series of American and Israel flags.
Susan Cohen could not be reached for comment.
Cohen’s attack comes two days after PA state representative Stephanie Borowicz unleashed radical Christian rhetoric, targeting Johnson-Harrell during an invocation at the 190th district state representative’s swearing-in ceremony.
Led by Aliya Khabir of the United Muslim Masjid, a group of Muslims hit social media as well as emailed and called Keller Williams real estate and its franchise Keller Williams of Northern Arizona (aka The Good Life Team AZ), where Cohen worked. They demanded the companies address the targeting of an African American Muslim government official by their employee with Islamophobic hate speech.
Susan Cohen is an agent at Keller Williams of Northern AZ, other wise known as the @GoodLifeTeamAZ. Contact them, submit a complaint via FB as well. https://t.co/rAaQER7L93
— Mama Kam (@KameelahRashad) March 28, 2019
AboutIslam contacted the parent company and subsidiary. Both condemned Cohen’s attack on Johnson-Harrell.
“We don’t agree with behavior that is not within our culture,” said a Keller Williams representative.
“Our company does not tolerate racism or any type of prejudicial behavior in any way,” said Sharon Baker, Keller Williams Arizona Realty team leader.
We embrace diversity and in fact honor all of our represented countries at the Opening Ceremony of our Annual Convention, wherein prayer is given by each religion represented, which includes Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, and others.”
By the afternoon, Susan Cohen’s termination was announced on Twitter.
The Good Life Team AZ does NOT support any hate speech or intolerance from our agents. Consequently, Susan Cohen has been immediately removed from our real estate team. It is our mission to serve ALL members of our community w/ love, respect inclusion & the best quality service.
— TheGoodLifeTeam AZ (@GoodLifeTeamAZ) March 28, 2019
“I regret that Ms. Cohen lost her job,” Rep. Johnson-Harrell told About Islam, “but I applaud Keller-Williams for their intolerance of bigotry and Islamophobia.”
“I do not know Ms. Cohen and I do not understand why she would choose to attack me on social media. The individuals sending me to hate mail and attacking me are doing so simply because I am Muslim. They are also doing it in Jesus’ name. That is not acceptable. It is also blasphemy.
“This country was built on religious freedoms. There is too much hate in this world. No one should have to be subjected to persecution for their religious choices.”
“Today, we the Muslim community and our allies, rallied for justice. By using social media, we mobilized at lightning speed to right a wrong against our sister, State Representative Movita Johnson-Harrell,” Khabir told About Islam.
As responded to messages of love and encouragement as well as those from vile trolls to Rep. Johnson-Harrell, Susan Cohen’s stuck out. What struck me the most was her profile picture. This smiling middle-aged upper-middle-class white woman, who truly looked like people I work with every day.
Her audacity to actually send such an ugly, and rather uneducated message, knowing that people have lost everything for this kind of hate-fueled rhetoric. Next what got under my skin was she sent the message probably thinking there would be no consequences.
That is when I decided: not today… or tomorrow for that matter. Immediate action was crucial as well as consequences for such brash, hateful behavior. So, I posted a call to action. In less than 24 hours, Susan Cohen felt those consequences.”