Join Aftab for, 'Eshgh: A Concert in Memory of Shayan Mazroei,' featuring Kamyar Arsani and Huda Asfour live at Bossa Bistro & Lounge Washington DC. Tickets $20. February 1st. 2018.
Purchase your 100% tax deductible ticket and have your name be recognized as a contributor to the Saddleback College Memorial Endowed Scholarship on Aftab's website! This memorial fund provides scholarships to students who are actively working for peace and anti-racism in the campus of Saddleback College and in the community.
About Shayan Mazroei:
On September 7, 2015, Shayan Mazroei, a 22-year-old student was stabbed by Craig Tanber – an admitted white-supremacist, outside of a local bar he frequented in Laguna Niguel, CA. Shayan later died of his wounds at the hospital.
Tanber and his longtime girlfriend and Orange County employee, Elizabeth Thornburg, began hurling racial slurs and epithets at Shayan as he and a friend dined at the pub. The pair called Shayan “terrorist,” “Arab,” and “f--cking Iranian” before Tanber fatally stabbed him in the chest, leaving him bleeding on the floor as he took off in a car driven by Thornburg. Surveillance video from the bar also shows Thornburg spitting on Shayan at least three times.
Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas has not only failed to charge Shayan’s murder as a hate crime, but has also not charged Elizabeth Thornburg with any crime at all, despite her involvement in the events that led up to the fatal stabbing, as well as her driving Mr. Tanber away from the crime scene.
As the anti-Iranian sentiment and hate crimes against Iranians-Americans and other people from majority Muslim countries have seen a staggering rise by hate groups across the country, it is more important now than ever to prosecute hate crimes as hate crimes under the law. When a local or state authority fails to properly charge and prosecute, it is the duty and responsibility of the federal government to intervene, investigate, and charge hate crimes as appropriate. Failure to do so would effectively concede that the 2009 Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crime Prevention Act was nothing more than a symbolic law that will seldom be utilized – that hate crimes against certain communities are tolerable or acceptable in the United States.
A successful hate crime prosecution requires two main elements: a known suspect and a motivation by animus or bias towards a protected class of people. Here, we have a known white supremacist suspect, and multiple witness accounts which establish this fatal stabbing was motivated by Shayan Mazroei’s Iranian heritage.
It is our position that Mr. Tanber and Ms. Thornburg violated 8 U.S.C. § 249 by committing an offense motivated by the actual or perceived national origin of Shayan Mazroei after noticing a prominently placed Iranian-inspired tattoo on Shayan’s forearm with Farsi script spelling “esgh” which translated to “love.” Mr. Tanber, with the encouragement and active participation of Ms. Thornburg, hurled racial slurs at Shayan and willfully stabbed Shayan to death using a knife which traveled in interstate or foreign commerce. Mr. Tanber was then driven away by Ms. Thornburg in a motor vehicle on a public roadway, which qualify as an instrumentality and channel of interstate commerce under the statute. Given the failure of the State authorities to charge a hate crime in this case, it is the position of the undersigned that a prosecution of Mr. Tanber and Ms. Thornburg by the United States under 8 U.S.C. § 249 is in the public interest and necessary to secure substantial justice.
Perpetrators of federal hate crimes must be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law, and Shayan Mazroei is no exception to this rule. Craig Tanber and Elizabeth Thornburg took something from the Mazroei family that night; they took their only son, a bright and caring young man who touched the lives of everyone he met and had the brightest future this country has to offer ahead of him. But even more, Tanber and Thornburg took something from the community that night as well: a sense of peace and safety.
Hate crimes must never be normalized in a civil society. We ask that the Department of Justice open a federal hate crime investigation into the fatal stabbing of Shayan Mazroei, and bring federal charges as appropriate.
This petition will be delivered to:
WAYS YOU CAN HELP
Since Shayan's passing, many have contacted the family offering to donate funds or send flowers. While we appreciate these kind offers, we do not need the funds. Instead we ask that you consider making a donation to the Shayan Mazroei Scholarship Fund by clicking here. The Shayan Mazroei Foundation which will be tax deductible 501(c)(3) non-profit named after our son. The scholarship fund will be managed through the Saddleback College Foundation. 100% of the funds donated will go towards providing community college students, who are transferring to four-year universities, with scholarships for years to come. In honor of Shayan, this scholarship is designed to draw attention to the endemic problem of racism & will require applicants to write an essay about the importance of diversity & tolerance. By making a donation, you are not only honoring Shayan's name, but are also helping future leaders to achieve their academic goals so that they can better contribute to society. Donate to the Shayan Mazroei Scholarship Fund by clicking here. Thank you for your contribution and support.
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Kamyar Arsani Bio:
Kamyar Arsani is a multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter born and raised in Tehran, Iran and current resident of Washington DC. Kamyar's musical mission is to spread cultural awareness and unity by mixing contemporary musical trends with traditional Persian folk music. Kamyar is also the poet and singer of "Time is Fire (TiF)." Their music has been described by Washington Post as "Music from a country that does not exist."
Kamyar takes on a different character performing with Time is Fire, wearing his sikke (a Sufi hat representing the "tombstone of Ego") and singing poems of resistance and freedom in English and Farsi. Within the four member band's worldly, funky, post-punky, afro-infected music, the sikke and poems make perfect sense. Their sound has been evolving since the group first came together in 2015. Washington City Paper: "Time Is Fire could have limitless places to go."
Huda Afsour Bio:
Huda Asfour was born to Palestinian parents in Lebanon in 1982, and grew up in Tunisia before moving to Gaza and then Ramallah. After secondary school she went to Birzeit University, where she joined the Sanabel ensemble, and then studied at the National Conservatory of Music under the supervision of the Palestinian musician Khaled Jubran.
She moved to Egypt in 2004 to continue her studies, where she teamed up with Tamer Abu-Ghazala to form Jahar. She performed in Egypt, Palestine and Lebanon, and in 2009 won a grant from the al-Mawred Cultural Foundation which enabled her to record her first album.
As well as being a musician, Asfour is a practicing biomedical engineer, with a post-doctoral position in the United States.
Asfour is one of a new generation of young Arab women singer-songwriters. Artists like Tunisia’s Badia Bouhreizi and the Egyptian Maryam have sought to create their own distinctive style and sound, rather than emulating the great divas Like Umm Kalthoum and Fairouz, or going along with the current vogue for reviving old classics. Of this generation, Kamila Jubran has arguably been the most successful in this endeavor, and her influence is clear on the work of the others, including Asfour.