Md. hate crimes commissioner back on task force after suspension over antisemitism

CAIR’s Zainab Chaudry had posted a series of controversial social media posts on Israel after Oct. 7

JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images

Zainab Chaudry speaks during a press conference at the Muslim Community Center in Silver Spring, Md., on February 16, 2015.

Weeks after a Muslim activist was temporarily suspended from a Maryland hate crimes task force due to a series of antisemitic social media posts, Maryland’s attorney general reinstated her to the body on Wednesday. 

Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown said the reappointment of Council on American-Islamic Relations Maryland Director Zainab Chaudry was due to a procedural matter: The 2023 legislation that created the body had allowed him to appoint commissioners to four-year terms, but it did not give him the power to remove them.

“Upon further review, it was determined that the law establishing the Commission directs the Attorney General to appoint members to a 4-year fixed term but does not provide the Attorney General the authority to remove a Commissioner before the expiration of their term nor the authority to suspend a Commissioner during their term of service,” Brown, a Democrat, said in a press release

Chaudry came under fire from Jewish activists after Jewish Insider revealed that her Facebook posts after the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks in Israel had expressed sympathy for Hamas, compared Israel to Nazi Germany and called Jewish Americans who supported Israel “genocide sympathizers.” Brown said in November that Chaudry’s “social media posts risk disrupting the work and mission of the Commission.” 

Brown’s statement on Wednesday announcing the end of her suspension from the Commission on Hate Crime Prevention and Response did not mention whether he had discussed the Facebook posts with her, or whether he condemned them. A spokesperson for Brown declined to comment on the content of the posts. 

Chaudry has not apologized for the posts. Speaking to a local TV station days after her temporary suspension was announced, she called the matter “a manufactured controversy that’s designed to distract from the very real atrocities and the horrific violence that’s being inflicted upon Palstinians in Gaza as we speak.” A petition from CAIR demanding Chaudry be reinstated garnered more than 5,500 signatures.

Maryland Del. Joe Vogel, who co-sponsored the legislation creating the commission, on Wednesday pledged to sponsor legislation to give the attorney general authority to remove members for violating a code of conduct, which also must be established. “Until this authority is granted to the attorney general, it is my position that this commission should delay any further meetings,” Vogel said in a statement. 

Jewish activists in the state acknowledged the procedural restrictions but expressed disappointment that Chaudry will remain on the commission.

“While we understand that legal technicalities are tying the attorney general’s hands, it’s incredibly disturbing that someone who has posted such hateful, anti-Jewish things on social media is back on a commission intended to fight hate crimes in Maryland,” Howard Libit, executive director of the Baltimore Jewish Council, told Baltimore TV station WMAR.

A CAIR spokesperson did not respond to a question about whether Chaudry regrets her posts or if she has discussed her commentary with members of the Jewish community.

Subscribe now to
the Daily Kickoff

The politics and business news you need to stay up to date, delivered each morning in a must-read newsletter.