10-month sentence for Carolina man who threatened Muslim politician

19th Jun 2020
10-month sentence for Carolina man who threatened Muslim politician

Qasim Rashid, Virginia Senate 28th District Candidate (CreditL Leo Frank/Flickr)

Nadine Osman

A man was sentenced on June 2 to 10 months in prison for threatening to lynch a Muslim politician who ran for a state Senate seat in Virginia.

Joseph Cecil Vandevere, from North Carolina, had faced a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison after a federal jury in Asheville, North Carolina, convicted him in December of interstate communication of a threat to injure candidate Qasim Rashid.

The 53-year-old was also sentenced to a year of supervised release after his prison term. Vandevere will report to prison at a date to be determined.

Vandevere was charged last June in connection with a tweet posted in March 2018 which included a picture of a lynching and read, ‘view your destiny.’ Rashid posted a screenshot of the threatening tweet and reported it to the FBI.

The judge also ordered Vandevere to pay $224 in restitution to Rashid. Rashid had urged the court to fine Vandevere $250,000, the statutory maximum, to “send the strongest message that there are material consequences for this kind of violent behaviour.”

“Our goal from the get-go was to emphasize rehabilitation and reform,” he said. “We’re a bit concerned that this (sentence) may not send that kind of deterrent message.”
Rashid said Vandevere’s threat evoked painful memories of a cousin who was lynched and dragged through the streets of Pakistan two decades ago, “his neck broken and his life taken because of his faith.”

“Seeing Vandevere’s threat, I felt found, thousands of miles away, by that same generational pain of violent religious persecution that my family had fled.” Rashid said.

Authorities also accused Vandevere of posting an anti-Semitic threat on a Florida Synagogue’s Facebook page.Investigators linked Vandevere’s telephone number to the same Twitter account — with the handle DaDUTCHMAN5 — that posted the threat against Rashid. The post was accompanied by a black-and-white photo of the infamous 1915 lynching of a Jewish man, Leo Frank, in Marietta, Georgia.

Rashid said in his post-trial statement to the court that Vandevere’s threat still haunts him and his family, with his wife constantly fearing for his safety. “I am forced to act now, in many ways, like someone who is hunted,” he wrote in January. In September, the court rejected Vandevere´s argument that his indictment must be dismissed on free speech grounds.

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