A Pakistani-origin leader of the Democratic Party in Vermont in the US has been threatened with a series of anti-Muslim emails asking him to “get out” of the state, media reports said. Faisal Gill, who took over as the Chairman of the Vermont Democratic Party in March and believed to be the first Muslim leader of a state political party in the US, received three threatening emails within a seven-day period in May. Christopher Hayden, 48, of Burlington in Vermont was arraigned in June on a charge of disturbing the peace by electronic means with a hate-crime enhancement, Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George was quoted as saying by the Burlington Free Press.
The charge carries a maximum prison sentence of two years and three months, George said. Hayden pleaded not guilty and was released on conditions, George said. The case was first reported Friday by Vermont Public Radio. Gill, 45, received one anti-Muslim email on May 24 from an account in Hayes’ name, and two additional messages May 31, the report said.
The final two emails used racial and ethnic slurs. The writer told Gill that it was his “last chance” to “get out of my Green Mountains.” “Get out or we will make you wish you did,” in a separate email, the writer told Gill.
Gill, who had never met Hayden, said he was deeply disturbed and alerted Burlington police. “I do hope that he gets a sentence that makes him realise that he cannot do these kind of things any more,” Gill said in an interview. George, the prosecutor, believes the threats were based entirely on Gill’s religion. “Any time that an individual is targeted and threatened based on theirnationality, religion or ethnicity, I find it extremely concerning and a threat to the integrity of our entire country,” George said. In late 2015, Hayden denied a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after police said he had threatened to kill a man while using racial slurs on Burlington’s Church Street Marketplace. George confirmed that the case involved the same man.Hate crimes are on a chilling upward trajectory in the US, particularly since the presidential election.