Member of Maryland hate crime commission temporarily suspended for social media posts on Israel-Hamas war

The leader of the Maryland chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations has been suspended from a state commission tasked with coming up with solutions to combat a rise in the number of hate crimes.

Zainab Chaudry was taken off the commission by Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown after she made posts on social media critical of Israel’s actions in response to the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas.

“Ms. Chaudry’s posts on her personal social media since Oct. 7, in these very early days of the Commission, have challenged the Commission’s ability to do its work,” Brown’s office said in a news release announcing the decision.

In October, Chaudry reposted Facebook posts seemingly comparing Israel to the Nazi state in Germany and in another post claimed that Israel had released “fake” numbers on civilian deaths from the Hamas attack on Israel Oct. 7.

The Commission on Hate Crimes Response and Prevention is made up of more than 20 organizations, including CAIR.

Brown, as chair of the commission, controls who from each organization serves on the board from the organization.

Speaking to WTOP about the decision, Chaudry called it “deeply troubling” and said her suspension over the posts infringes on her First Amendment rights.

“These comments were made in my own personal capacity. And they were in no shape, way or form designed to invite hate,” she said.

She said her organization has been clear that it condemns the killing of innocent lives, “regardless of whether they’re Palestinian or Israeli.”

She also said she feels the posts being criticized have been taken out of context.

“I stand by the context with which these posts were shared,” she said.

Brown said he has directed his staff to develop a draft statement about personal communications by commission members to “carefully balance their right to free speech with their role as a commission member.”

Brown also urged members of the commission to exercise “great care” when making personal postings.

“For example, personal postings that could be reasonably perceived as hate speech may disrupt the ability of the Commission to accomplish its important work,” his office stated.

When it comes to the drafting of a values statement, Chaudry said she will have to examine what’s inside.

“I just want to be clear that whatever platform that I have, that it doesn’t require me to sacrifice advocacy or fighting for justice for any community, including Palestinians,” she said.

Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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