Mayor in NJ Says He Received Death Threats

Monday, Jun 27, 2011  |  Updated 6:13 PM EDT
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Mayor in NJ Says He Received Death Threats

A screen grab that the Syrian-born mayor of Prospect Park, N.J., says shows one of the threats he has received.

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The Syrian-born mayor of Prospect Park, N.J., says he is receiving death threats on his Facebook page in response to his public comments on the unrest in the country where he was born.

Mayor Mohamed Khairullah, whose family left Syria when he was a child, tells NBC New York that the online postings have also threatened his wife and children.

Some of the threats were in Arabic, others in English. Some accused him of being "an agent of America and Israel," the mayor said.

"A lot of disgusting messages," he said in an interview Monday. "Part of the Syrian regime strategy is the digital combat of anyone who speaks online against them. It's an organized effort by the Syrian government."

Khairullah, mayor for six years, has spoken publicly about the unrest in Syria in multiple forums.

In one Op-Ed he wrote for The Bergen Record, he said "using fear as a method of keeping the population in check has been its way."

"Fear of torture, fear of disappearing and fear of never having a simple government transaction being processed without having to do the impossible are all fears that play into the minds of Syrians when they want to stand up for their rights," he wrote.

Khairullah said he is concerned for his safety and his family's well-being, but said he doesn't plan to ask for extra security at the cost of taxpayers.

"I'm going to be extra careful, ask my family to be extra careful," he said.

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