A federal grand jury in Victoria, Texas, has returned a three-count superseding indictment against Marq Vincent Perez for allegedly burning the Victoria Islamic Center in January.
According to a report by Victoria Advocate, the 25-year-old Perez was previously indicted for possession of an unregistered destructive device for an incident that occurred on January 15. Perez was initially arrested and charged on March 3 in connection with an attempt to blow up a car with a destructive device. At a detention hearing held the following week, the court heard evidence linking Perez to a January 22, burglary of the Victoria Islamic Center as well as a January 28 burglary and arson of the same mosque. Perez is in custody pending further criminal proceedings.
If convicted, Perez faces up to 20 years in federal prison for the hate crime. He also faces up to 10 years for possessing an unregistered destructive device. If convicted of use of a fire to commit a felony, the penalty is a consecutive and mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison. All of the counts also carry a potential $250,000 penalty.
More hate crimes
Hate crimes against Muslims are on the rise in the country, stated a report by CBS News.
On Sunday, a burned copy of the Quran stuffed with bacon was found attached to a fence outside a mosque in Sacramento, California.
On Friday night, pages ripped from a Quran were found strew about outside the Islamic Center of Davis. They are both being investigated as hate crimes. Muslims across the country have been warned to stay alert. CAIR has created a civil rights mobile application where minority groups can report assaults as they happen. The app allows a user to file a description of an alleged incident. Based on the complaint, the CAIR staff will investigate.
These hate crimes have occurred amid Donald Trump issuing an executive order, which had put a halt to travelers from six Muslim-majority countries—Syria, Libya, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen – entering the U.S. for 90 days.
According to a report by the Independent, the Trump administration said that the travel ban was in the best interests of Americans and it is primarily for national security.
[Featured Image by Emrah Gurel/AP Images]