(WASHINGTON, D.C., 8/18/15) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today asked Muslim community leaders nationwide to consider instituting additional safety measures for prayers and other activities following revelations of a recent FBI bulletin warning that “militia extremists” may begin targeting Muslim institutions, including mosques and community centers.
The bulletin, titled “Militia Extremists Expand Target Sets to Include Muslims” and obtained by Public Intelligence, was released to law enforcement before a May rally by armed demonstrators outside a Phoenix mosque. Some of those demonstrators wore Nazi-themed attire.
FBI sources report that militia members have been conducting surveillance of “diverse locations including Alaska, Arizona, Indiana, Montana, New York, North and South Carolina, Utah, and Texas.”
The FBI report noted that militia extremists in Mississippi discussed kidnapping and beheading a Muslim and posting video of the attack to the Internet. It concluded that the targeting of Muslims is fueled by misconceptions that Islam represents a foreign threat and that President Obama sympathizes with Islamic extremists and his policies align with their goals.
The bulletin cited sources of anti-Muslim bigotry such as the Christian Action Network, hate blogger Pamela Geller and the Internet hate site World Net Daily.
SEE: The FBI Believes Militia Extremists Are Beginning to Target Muslim Institutions
CAIR recently released a brief, called “Toxic Hate,” indicating that the backlash against the nation’s Muslim community in the past year has a “more violent tone” than past spikes in Islamophobic sentiment.
Violent incidents outlined in CAIR’s brief included the murder earlier this year of Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha in Chapel Hill, N.C., and the murder of 15-year-old Abdisamad “Adam” Sheikh-Hussein outside a Kansas City mosque in 2014.
Another case outlined in the brief was that of Robert Doggart, a former candidate for congressional office in Tennessee, who signed a plea agreement admitting his plot to assault the Muslim community of Islamberg in New York. Doggart allegedly conspired with militia members in South Carolina.
SEE: CAIR’s New ‘Toxic Hate’ Brief Outlines Violent Tone in Recent U.S. Islamophobia
Recommended Community Safety Steps
Prior to any event or gathering:
* Instruct staff and volunteers to be vigilant about their surroundings.
* Immediately report any threatening or hostile phone calls or messages to local police. Where possible, obtain a name and phone number for the caller. If you are speaking to the caller, do not engage in a debate or become angry; you do not want to escalate the situation. Keep a detailed log of hate calls.
* Contact your local police department and ask them to increase patrols in the area of your facility.
* Remember, for a fee, many local police departments will provide officers to be present at a facility during services.
* Contact a local CAIR chapter to report any incidents: http://www.cair.com/cair-chapters.html
* Record details of any bias incidents by filling out a report at: http://www.cair.com/civil-rights/report-an-incident.html
Community leaders are being asked to implement safety measures outlined in CAIR’s booklet, “Best Practices for Mosque and Community Safety,” which was published in response to previous attacks on American mosques.
The booklet is designed to be used by mosque officials, Muslim school administrators and other community leaders and activists who seek to identify and eliminate vulnerabilities to bias-motivated attacks.
A free copy of CAIR’s “Best Practices for Mosque and Community Safety” may be requested by going to: http://www.cair.com/mosque-safety-guide.html
CAIR’s safety guide states in part:
“A general framework in which to think about institutional security falls within the following broad categories:
• Be Aware
• Assess Your Vulnerability
• Prepare and Plan
“This framework can be applied to all sorts of security issues, from hate graffiti to burglary or to an active-shooter episode. Decision-makers must decide which recommendations are best applied to their facility. They must also decide the order in which they will implement the process.”
Other initial safety steps recommended in CAIR’s guide include:
Develop a Legal Contact List
Develop a list of attorneys who are willing to be consulted by the Muslim community in response to backlash incidents. Ask Muslim attorneys to volunteer their services to community members during this time of crisis.
Develop Positive Relationships with Law Enforcement Agencies
Community leaders should, in cooperation with local civil rights advocates and attorneys, immediately coordinate meetings between representatives of the Muslim community and local and state law enforcement agencies. These meetings should focus on ways in which the community can help improve security and on how authorities can protect Muslims, Arab-Americans and other targeted minorities from harassment and discrimination.
Meet with Elected Officials to Discuss Community Concerns
Delegations of Muslim representatives should schedule meetings with local, state and national elected representatives or their key staff to discuss community concerns.
Build Coalitions with Interfaith and Minority Groups
Meetings should be coordinated with representatives of local interfaith and minority groups. These meetings should focus on building lines of communication and support and hearing from these groups how they deal with discrimination and bigotry.
Meet with Local School Officials to Discuss Student Safety
Representatives of the Muslim community should meet with local school and school board officials to discuss safety plans for students and to sensitize the administrators to harassment of Muslim students.
Build an Emergency Contact List
Community leaders should develop emergency email, text message and phone contact lists to be used in case of an incident that threatens the community’s safety. Local imams, Islamic center board members and Muslim activists should be on the lists. A second list should be developed containing contact information for all local law enforcement agencies.
Hold a Community Meeting to Inform Others of Safety Guidelines
Call for a meeting of the local Muslim community to discuss the information outlined in this kit. The meeting should take place at a local mosque or Islamic center and should be advertised using the emergency contact list.
Establish a Community Support Network
Establish a network of community members who can offer emotional and material support to those who may be the victims of hate crimes or discrimination. Victims should not be left alone to deal with the negative impact of such incidents.
CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
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