"They are trying to make something out of nothing for their own gain." Considering the trumped-up quality of CAIR's hate crimes report, this is eminently plausible.
By Eugene Scott for The Arizona Republic (thanks to Twostellas):
The three men accused of harassing a Muslim imam at a Tempe mosque on Sept. 11 say the incident has been misportrayed as a hate crime.
"We walked inside the mosque. We were curious about what was in there, like any other church," said Brandon Garcia, one of the three men. "We didn't stop to cause any trouble or to be mean to anyone."
Garcia, Michael Estes and Armando Tolosa were near the mosque on a plumbing job when they decided to go in to learn more about Islam, according to their employer, Richard Yeates, owner of a Mesa plumbing company.
Ahmed Al-Shqeirat, the imam, said Estes cursed at him and made derogatory comments about Muslim children passing by.
Because the incident happened on the sixth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Al-Shqeirat and others in the Muslim community have said they consider the incident a hate crime.
Tempe police arrested Estes, 32, on suspicion of disorderly conduct. The other two men were not arrested.
"We basically looked at what the victims told us and we've done an investigation and determined there was a crime committed," said Mike Horn, Tempe police spokesman.
But Garcia and Tolosa said it was Al-Shqeirat who provoked Estes.
Al-Shqeirat said Estes asked him what he was hiding in the mosque. Garcia and Tolosa said Al-Shqueirat's report that Estes asked him what he was hiding in the mosque was untrue. They also said they never made any negative comments about kids.
"We were just asking questions. And (Al-Shqeirat) was fine at first," Tolosa said. "I guess he felt offended."
Al-Shqeirat got more upset as Estes asked more questions, Tolosa said. He said the imam suggested they make an appointment for a tour, which matches the imam's story. Tolosa said they told Al-Shqeirat that they were interested in a tour, but that Al-Shqeirat abruptly asked the men to leave. They complied, he said.
Tolosa and Garcia admit that when Al-Shqeirat began taking pictures of them as they walked out to their company vehicle, Estes cursed at him. Estes' language was in response to them being photographed without permission, they said.
"They are trying to make something out of nothing for their own gain," Yeates said of the imam....