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The nation’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy group is seeking hate crime charges against the Harford County man accused of assaulting Aamir in February. (Talia Richman / Baltimore Sun)

A Muslim civil rights group is seeking hate crime charges in an alleged attack by a Harford County man on a Muslim teen.

Charles Valle Jr., 60, was charged in the February incident with second-degree assault and malicious destruction of property, both misdemeanors.

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The Harford County state's attorney said he does not view the incident as a hate crime.

Dawar Aamir, 19, gave his version of the confrontation at a news conference Wednesday.

Aamir said he was driving in Bel Air on Feb. 27 when he was nearly in a collision with a vehicle driven by an older white man.

When Aamir parked his car, he said, he heard a loud bang, and then the man yanked open his door.

Aamir said the man hit him in the face, knocking off his glasses. As Aamir felt around the ground for his glasses, now broken, he said, the man yelled at him to get out of the country.

"I wouldn't wish this pain and humiliation on my worst enemies," Aamir said.

Valle could not be reached for comment Wednesday. Messages left for his attorney were not returned.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations called on prosecutors to bring hate crime charges.

"The physical, emotional, and psychological toll of such attacks must not be ignored or trivialized," said Zainab Chaudry, outreach director for CAIR Maryland. "We urge prosecutors to hold this alleged attacker accountable and to send a message to the public that hate crimes will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law."

Harford County State's Attorney Joseph Cassilly said he didn't think it was necessary to add hate crime charges.

"It's a road rage incident where the victim and defendant happen to be of different ethnic backgrounds," he said. "It's not like the guy just picked the guy out of a crowd and walked up to him for no reason."

CAIR says it received 851 reports nationwide in the first quarter of this year of incidents that "contained an identifiable element of anti-Muslim bias. The organization says alleged bias incidents increased more than 55 percent from 2015 to 2016.

"It speaks to the normalization of anti-Muslim bigotry in this country," Chaudry said.

Raees Khan, executive director of the Greater Baltimore Muslim Council, said his community is fearful. A hate crime charge in Aamir's case, he said, would help put people at ease.

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CAIR attorney Gadeir Abbas said, "It's important for all parts of the government to do what can be done to tamp down this rising tide of bigotry.

"It sends a message that this type of bigoted violence is not going to be tolerated in Harford County."

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