While practicing immigration law in Connecticut, Rabia Chaudry saw a need for diversity training for all local law-enforcements.
In 2007 Chaudry had her own legal firm in which she helped many clients. Though the majority of whom were Muslims that were having problems with the police. These Muslims were also applying to become legal American residents. The police knew this, and according to Chaudry, took it to their advantage. The police, wanting eyes and ears in local mosques, were pressuring these immigrants to become their informants. The officers would say such things as if you want your immigration status to go well you need to help us.
With the rise in reports of racial profiling, specifically with the police, Chaudry had to be selective on what cases she filled her time with. She wanted to be the one taking the crucial immigration cases, and fighting for the equal rights of her clients. As she was representing clients being pressured by law-enforcement, they were also working with law-enforcement, giving suggestions on how to treat certain cases. From there, she realized that there was a lot of negativity within the law-enforcement. â€œItâ€™s not that law-enforcement gets poor training, they get no training, so they get their information from the Internet or the TV,â€ said Chaudry.
Chaudry, as well as most Americans, expected that someone working counter terrorism to at least have some sort of knowledge of the community that they are going into. So in 2009 she officially brought it all together, beginning her own company. Thatâ€™s how the business Safe Nation Collaborative came about, with Chaudry as the founder and still practicing attorney. Though she is still selective in what cases she fills her time with, â€œbecause I want to be the one taking the immigration cases and unfortunately, there are a lot of non-creditable lawyers in the community,â€ Chaudry said. So she works in her practice two days a week, and is heavily focused on providing solid information on Islam and Muslims, especially to local law-enforcement. Safe Nation Collaborative works to give the right insightful tips on how to respectfully engage with Muslim communities. Members of any community, of any religious and / or cultural background, should feel safe and confident contacting their local law enforcement authorities. According to an FBI source that Chaudry noted, of the entire terrorist acts committed in America, 92% of them are not carried out by Muslims. â€œI donâ€™t expect the average person to know that, but someone in the FBIâ€™s counter terrorism, they donâ€™t even know that,â€ said Chaudry.
Statics such as this, as well as clear data on terrorism in the US, is the kind of diversity training that Safe Nation Collaborative provides. They work to show where the threats are actually coming from, focusing on the small percentage that is made up by Muslim offenders. Also, Chaudry see it as an opportunity to be able to freely talk about counter terrorism, because there really is no other time or place to freely do so. Mainly because most times when terrorism is mentioned, people automatically think of Muslims, when according to the track record, it should not be the case. Theyâ€™ve given such training to area such as Hartford Country, Maryland. Here, not just the police department, but to the entire Country. The city officials were very open-minded and thought this was needed. The response from the trainees were mostly positive, with comments such as â€œwe never knew,â€ though others in Hartford County, just didnâ€™t want to hear or believe it.
Last week, Chaudry announced on her Facebook page that she was happy to announce her firm to be providing diversity training on Islam and Muslims to the entire Washington DC Metro Police. â€œOur programs aim to give local law enforcement agencies accurate information about Islam and Muslims, instead of the fear-mongering and bigoted training that exist out there,â€ said Chaudry.
She also made sure to give credit where she thought it was due to the people from JIDS, a Maryland based interfaith group (Jewish Islamic Dialogue Society). They met with the Maryland Police Department repeatedly after what she called an unfortunately incident between police officers and mosque, getting them to agree to diversity training. â€œI would be amiss not to applaud their effort and commitment to creating at atmosphere that holds agencies accountable and provide Muslims with safe spaces,â€ Chaudry wrote.
â€œWe know we are working against a backdrop of mass surveillance and poor policing policies. But I believe we can turn this around,â€ Chaudry concluded her post with.