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October 20, 2018

[PRESS RELEASE] Emgage Action Applauds Justice Department Sentencing

For immediate release

October 19, 2018

Department of Justice Sentences Victoria Islamic Center Arsonist

Washington, D.C., – Emgage Action welcomes the recent verdict handed down in response to the arson attack against the Victoria Islamic Center in Texas. Marq Perez was sentenced on October 18 to more than 24 years in prison for burning down the center in 2017. Emgage Action applauds the Justice Department, and in particular, the Department’s Civil Rights Division for its tireless efforts in investigating and prosecuting this hate crime. Emgage Action has worked closely with the Civil Rights Division for the past two years to ensure that our government takes seriously hate crimes against Muslims and other ethnic and religious minorities.

On January 28, 2017, Marq Perez used a lighter to set papers on fire inside the mosque located in Victoria, Texas. He had previously burglarized the mosque and often used anti-Muslim slurs. Perez was caught soon after and charged with damaging a religious property, use of fire to commit a federal felony and possession of an unregistered destructive device.

“Everyone in this country has the right to worship freely without fear of violence,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore in the Department of Justice press release. “This defendant terrorized the Muslim community in Victoria, and the Department partnered with federal, state, and local agencies to ensure that the person responsible for this heinous hate crime would be found and prosecuted.”

Wa’el Alzayat, CEO of Emgage Action, said, “The Department of Justice’s response to this despicable incident is heartening and illustrates its commitment to enforcing anti-hate crime measures. No American should have to practise their faith in fear and this verdict is a step in the right direction.”


Emgage Action is the leading American Muslim civic and political engagement organization. Emgage PAC is a bipartisan, nationally based political action committee that supports state and federal candidates, primarily in battleground states, based on their support for civil rights, minority rights and a diverse America where underrepresented communities are seen as a part of the social fabric of our nation. For more information visit

For more information, please contact Iman Awad at