A U.S. attorney in Tennessee is reportedly suggesting that anti-Islam postings on social media could actually be considered civil rights violations.
Bill Killian, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee, told the Tullahoma News that inflammatory or hateful posts could potentially run afoul of the law. He will speak next week alongside the head of the FBI’s Knoxville office at a meeting sponsored by a local American Muslim advisory group.
“This is an educational effort with civil rights laws as they play into freedom of religion and exercising freedom of religion,” Killian told the newspaper. “This is also to inform the public what federal laws are in effect and what the consequences are.”
He pointed to a Tennessee county commissioner who posted an image of a man aiming a double-barreled shotgun to Facebook with the caption, “How to wink at a Muslim.”
“If a Muslim had posted ‘How to Wink at a Christian,’ could you imagine what would have happened?” Killian said. “We need to educate people about Muslims and their civil rights, and as long as we’re here, they’re going to be protected.”
He told the newspaper that Internet postings that violate civil rights fall under federal jurisdiction.
“That’s what everybody needs to understand,” he said.
The Justice Department did not respond to a request from Politico about what it considers offensive speech about Islam, or about using civil rights law to prohibit it.