(WASHINGTON, D.C., 3/17/2009) – A coalition of major national Islamic organizations announced that it is considering suspending outreach relations with the FBI, citing recent incidents in which American mosques and Muslim groups have been targeted.
In a statement, the American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections (AMT), said:
Muslim communities throughout the United States have made significant advances in promoting and contributing to a fair, free and pluralistic society.
Through civil rights advocacy, civic and political engagement, and the promotion of dialogue with interfaith leaders and law enforcement agencies, Muslim Americans continue to be a positive and stabilizing force in keeping our nation safe and secure from acts of violence and foreign threats.
Despite fear-mongering by a vocal minority, Muslim Americans are natural allies of law enforcement agencies in ensuring the wellbeing of our nation. Muslims are law-abiding and productive citizens who uphold the democratic principles of freedom, equality and justice.
Yet recent incidents targeting American Muslims lead us to consider suspending ongoing outreach efforts with the FBI.
In California, the FBI sent a convicted criminal to pose as an agent provocateur in several of that stateâ€™s mosques. An FBI agent allegedly told one of the mosque attendees that the agency would make his life a â€œliving hellâ€ if he did not become an informant.
The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) wrote in a recent statement, headlined â€œFBI Losing Partnership with American Muslim Communityâ€ – â€œTrust is the cornerstone of any partnership between law enforcement and communities. It can only be established and maintained through clear and open communication. Without this, trust is eroded and suspicions arise on all sides. This clearly does not serve anyoneâ€™s interestsâ€¦It is now up to the FBI and law enforcement agencies to re-engage with the Muslim American community, and re-build trust and respect.â€
Early last fall, the FBI began a disengagement campaign in its relations with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nationâ€™s largest and most respected Muslim civil rights organization.The FBI suspended contacts with CAIR pending the resolution of unspecified â€œissues.â€
In response, the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, an umbrella organization of many Muslim groups, suspended outreach to the FBI in February. The councilâ€™s letter to the FBI stated in part:
â€œOur commitment to ensuring the rights, interests, and prosperity of American Muslims and all Americans is unconditional. We hope the FBI will have the foresight to restore its relationship with such a vital link to the American Muslim community.â€
We believe the FBIâ€™s unjustified actions are based on the May 2007 designation of some 300 groups and individuals, including several major American Muslim groups such as CAIR, the Islamic society of North America (ISNA) and the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT), as â€œunindicted co-conspiratorsâ€ (UCC) in conjunction with the Holy Land Foundation trial in Dallas, Texas.
Making this unjust designation public violates the Justice Departmentâ€™s own guidelines and wrongly implies that those listed are somehow involved in criminal activity.
Bias and faulty premises dominated post-9/11 law enforcement analysis of the Muslim community and the threat assessment to national security. The waning days of the previous administration witnessed a flourishing of anti-Muslim activity.
There is even inter-agency information being disseminated that claims civil rights advocacy is part of a Muslim conspiracy to implement Shariâ€™a law in order to destroy the United States. Recent government actions seemed to be based on this bizarre premise.
These McCarthy-era tactics are detrimental to a free society.
The credibility of all Muslim organizations who maintain ties to the FBI that do not react decisively is undermined in the eyes of the community. Our fear is that counter-intelligence programs are quelling lawful dissent.
What is most frightening is that FBI abuses are no longer covert, and are slowly being integrated into the already expansive laws regulating law enforcement activity.
Internationally, in light of President Obamaâ€™s initiative of dialogue with the Muslim world, such actions negatively impact U.S. interests.
If the FBI does not accord fair and equitable treatment to every American Muslim organization, including CAIR, ISNA and NAIT, then Muslim organizations, mosques and individuals will have no choice but to consider suspending all outreach activities with FBI offices, agents and other personnel. This possible suspension, of course, would in no way affect our unshakable duty to report crimes or threats of violence to our nation.
We call on the FBI to reassess its positions on profiling and the use of informants as agents provocateurs within the Muslim communities. We further request objective evaluation of the sources of information and analysis utilized to formulate decisions.
Notwithstanding such requests, we call on Muslim organizations and individuals to petition their elected representatives to hold hearings to address these grave matters of concern to the Muslim community.
We fully expect that the Presidentâ€™s calls for inclusion will not be derailed by irresponsible elements in and outside of government fomenting anti-Muslim bias in this great nation.
Organization signatories to the agreement are:
1. American Muslim Alliance (AMA) 2. American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) 3. Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) 4. Islamic Educational Center of Orange County (IEC) 5. Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) 6. Muslim Alliance in North America (MANA) 7. MAS Freedom (MASF) 8. Muslim Student Association-National (MSA-N) 9. Muslim Ummah of North America (MUNA) 10. United Muslims of America (UMA)