The Minnesota Democrat on Tuesday called for restraint in the upcoming judgment of Patrick W. Carlineo Jr., 55, of Addison, New York, who sent her a death threat because of her Muslim faith, according to a criminal complaint and accompanying affidavit.
During a call to Omar’s office in March, an individual who identified himself as Pat Carlineo said to a staff member: “Do you work for the Muslim Brotherhood? Why are you working for her, she’s a (expletive) terrorist. I’ll put a bullet in her (expletive) skull,” according to the affidavit. Omar’s office referred the threat to the US Capitol Police, which began an investigation with the FBI.
Omar acknowledged in her letter that “there is no doubt that Mr. Carlineo’s crime is grave,” citing the danger of threats to public officials and religious officials and the growing trend of hate crimes against religious minorities nationwide.
“But we must ask: who are we as a nation if we respond to threats of political retribution with retribution ourselves,” she wrote. “The answer to hate is not more hate, it is compassion.”
Omar reasoned that punishing Carlineo with a harsh prison term or fine “would not rehabilitate him,” but would only serve to “increase his anger and resentment.”
“He should understand the consequences of his actions, be given the opportunity to make amends and seek redemption,” she added.
The congresswoman also called in her letter for crime prevention efforts to target the roots of violent crime.
“People who threaten or commit violence are often themselves the victims of systemic alienation and neglect,” she said. “They seek violence because they are taught violence. We must address this systemic alienation through community reintegration and social services.”
Hate speech and violent political threats, Omar said, can only be defeated “with compassion.”
CNN’s Kevin Bohn contributed to this report.