WASHINGTON – A top FBI official paid a special visit to a Washington local mosque, assuring the members of the American Muslims ahead of Donald Trump’s inauguration, and vowing to fight rising hate crimes.
“The essence of why we’re here is to keep you safe,” said Paul Abbate, head of the FBI’s Washington field office, told the congregates as they gathered for prayer, WUSA9 reported on Saturday.
Abbate’s visit last week to Falls Church mosque Dar al Hijra to reassure the Muslim community as the country witnessed a 6 per cent increase in hate crimes, including a 67% increase in hate crimes against Muslims, according to the Virginia Attorney General’s office.
Joined by his team and Fairfax County Police Chief Ed Roessler, Abbate spoke to about a thousand people at one of three prayer services.
He confirmed that the FBI is committed to stopping hate crimes and that people coming forward to report suspicious activity is key.
“We want them to come forward. We want to engage with them. So that if there’s anything we can do to prevent acts of violence of harm coming to people or communications, that’s what we’re all about,” said Abbate.
At the mosque, longtime Dar al Hijra Imam Johari Abdul-Malik embraced Paul Abbate, head of the FBI’s Washington field office, who was appointed this week as executive FBI Assistant Director for Criminal Investigations Worldwide.
“For people to see in the flesh, to press the flesh, to look in someone’s the eye and get a sense of the veracity of what they’re saying, it makes a tremendous a difference,” said Imam Johari.
The visit assured local Muslims who have been concerned with the political climate over the past year.
“Now, I feel like this kind of support there is a plus side, even though there is so much negativity, people are coming out showing us there are good people,” Sarah Moustafa said.
“We’re so happy, we have support and help from official in Washington,” said Hesham Hassan.
“This is our country. It’s a great thing. Big support for Muslims, actually.”