Lynch, speaking at a dinner held by the Muslim Advocates, did not directly address the San Bernardino shootings at the event, but said there had been a “very disturbing rise in anti-Muslim rhetoric” across America since the Paris shootings three weeks before.
Assuring the pro-Muslim group that “we stand with you,” Lynch said she would use her Justice Department to protect Muslims from “violence” and discrimination and vowed to prosecute anyone guilty of what she described as violence-inspiring speech.
“The fear that you have just mentioned is in fact my greatest fear as a prosecutor, as someone who is sworn to the protection of all of the American people, which is that the rhetoric will be accompanied by acts of violence,” she said. “My message to not just the Muslim community but to the entire American community is: We cannot give in to the fear that these backlashes are really based on. When we talk about the First Amendment we make it clear that actions predicated on violent talk are not American. They are not who we are, they are not what we do, and they will be prosecuted.”
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