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No Contest Pleas in L.A. Assault

Two Iranian men accused of attacking two men whom they believed were Jewish outside a West Hollywood nightclub pleaded no contest to a hate-crime charge, according to the Associated Press.

Daoud Mohammad Majid, 19, and Mohammed Hassan Aref, 22, would have faced as many as eight years in state prison had they been convicted of the original charges — committing an assault likely to cause great bodily injury — enhanced by a hate-crime allegation, said Scott Millington, head of the hate-crimes unit of the Los Angeles district attorney’s office. Instead, on Monday the two pleaded no contest to a hate-crime attack, without the original bodily injury component that prosecutors had sought.

Majid was put on three years’ probation and ordered to receive tolerance counseling, go to the Museum of Tolerance, perform community service and make restitution to the victims, Millington said.

The same conditions were imposed on Aref, but his sentencing was postponed and he was ordered back to court on November 3.

The charges stemmed from a riot on September 15, 2002, in which two men were attacked, allegedly by a group shouting, “Kill the Jews!” The ambush occurred at around 2 a.m., when a crowd of 10 to 15 people set upon the two young men outside the Goodbar nightclub on Sunset Boulevard, which had sponsored a Persia Night that evening.

The riot shocked members of the Jewish and Muslim Iranian communities, who insisted that Iranian Muslims and Jews get along well in the Los Angeles area, home to one of the largest Iranian Jewish communities in the United States.

Nevertheless, as the Forward reported in September, some noted that the attack might be a sign of new tensions emerging between the two groups.

“We have noticed more reporting of antisemitic incidents within the Iranian community,” said Marjan Keypour Greenblatt, associate director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Pacific Southwest regional office and herself an immigrant from Iran.

“It may be an isolated incident, but it is alarming enough for civil-rights organizations and Jewish leaders to be more vigilant,” she said at the time.

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