Clifton man faces charges for allegedly threatening Paterson’s Muslim police chief

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A Clifton man is facing charges for allegedly threatening Paterson’s first Muslim chief of police.

Protective barriers were erected in front of Paterson Police Headquarters on Monday due to serious threats made against Chief Ibrahim Baycora. Baycora is the city’s first Muslim and Turkish American police chief.

“The message should be sent loud and clear: You can’t mess with our police chief. Especially if you’re messing with him because of his faith,” says Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh.

Stefan Keco, 28, is facing multiple charges, including third-degree terroristic threats and one count of second-degree bias intimidation. Authorities say that he sent hate-filled text messages to Baycora. He turned himself into police on Friday.

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"I cannot remember ever having a chief experienced anything like this, and early in his term. He was appointed on Feb. 1, so not even a month,” Sayegh says.

It was unclear how Keco obtained the chief’s phone number. But this type of incident is not an isolated one in Paterson. There have been other threats towards members of the Muslim community.

On the website forum BarenakedIslam.com, threats were made to a local mosque in the city following the Paterson City Council’s first vote allowing all faiths to use exterior speakers for calls to prayer.

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“We’re up against ignorance, and what does ignorance do? It breeds violence. Sometimes these individuals don’t know any better and that’s what hate does to you,” the mayor says.

Representatives from the Council on American Islamic Relations issued a statement following the comments left on the BarenakedIslam website.

"Our CAIR-NJ office called on the FBI today to investigate an online threat that suggested blowing up Mosques in Paterson,” a spokesperson stated.

The statement continued, "Like the violent threat made against Paterson's Muslim police chief, we hope that law enforcement takes this latest threat very seriously and investigates accordingly."

Keco is scheduled to be in court for the first time on Wednesday. He is being held at the Passaic County Jail.

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