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FBI Probes Shooting Over Race Motive

Copyright 2006 The Birmingham News
All Rights Reserved
Birmingham News (Alabama)
March 2, 2006 Thursday
SECTION: LOCAL NEWS; Pg. 5B Vol. 118 No. 327
LENGTH: 310 words
HEADLINE: FBI probes shooting over race motive
BYLINE: RYAN MILLS News staff writer
BODY:
The FBI is investigating the shooting of a Moroccan man in Tuscaloosa to determine if it was a violation of a federal civil rights statute.
Raymond Zicarelli, a spokesman for the FBI, said the shooting may be a violation of a federal law against injuring or intimidating a person because of race, color or religion.
”We’ve discussed this case in Washington and based on that conversation we’re going to initiate an investigation,” Zicarelli said.
Jason Michael Gardner, 23, is accused of shooting Nabil Chagri, 26, shortly before 11 p.m. on Feb. 23. Chagri was waiting in his van with his wife and two young children for an order of food from the Quick Grill restaurant. Someone shot into the van with a .22-caliber rifle, hitting Chagri in the neck and back.
Shortly before the shooting Gardner used an anti-Arab racial slur in an argument with Quick Grill owner Jassim Madan. Gardner also got into a scuffle with one of the restaurant’s customers, police said.
Gardner was arrested shortly after the shooting and is being held in the Tuscaloosa County Jail, with bond set at $130,000.
Chagri was released from DHC Regional Medical Center on Sunday.
Farook Chandiwala, the human rights coordinator for the Birmingham Islamic Society, said people in Alabama have generally been friendly to Muslims and Arabs.
”The South has been very good to us,” Chandiwala said. ”We haven’t had any major problems. We feel reasonably safe, but we don’t know when a spark may happen.”
Nationally, crimes against Muslims and Arabs spike when there are incidents in the news that paint a bad picture of them, said Nawar Shora, a representative for the Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee. He said the recent riots over the Danish cartoons of Mohammed and the proposed sale of American port operations to a Dubaibased company may be increasing tensions.
EMAIL: rmills@bhamnews.com