The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today urged mosque and community leaders to seek the advice of an attorney if they are approached by the FBI for questioning. CAIR says it has received reports from around the nation of mosque officials being asked to meet with FBI agents and then being pressed to inform on members of their congregations. In an advisory to Muslim community leaders, CAIR recommended that before any meeting with the FBI or any law enforcement agency, American Muslim leaders should seek the advice of an attorney and have that attorney present at any meeting. “American Muslim leaders and institutions should maintain positive relations with local and federal law enforcement authorities, but those relations must be built on respect for constitutionally-protected civil rights,” said CAIR Civil rights Litigation Director Jenifer Wicks. “Consulting with an attorney is the best way to protect your rights.” She said all Americans are invested in protecting our nation; however, the FBI’s overbroad and coercive use of informants in mosques, reports of outreach meetings being used for intelligence gathering and other acts of abuse demonstrate that community leaders should engage legal professionals to ensure the protection of their rights and those of their congregations.
Wicks recommended that if community leaders are contacted by the FBI or other law enforcement officials, they should ask for business cards from those individuals and immediately consult with an attorney before any questioning takes place. CAIR’s “Know Your Rights and Responsibilities” pocket guide tells American Muslims to report any actual knowledge of criminal activity without being asked by law enforcement authorities. It states: “American Muslims strongly support law enforcement and the protection of our national security. As Americans, we also value civil rights. All Americans have the constitutional right to due process and to be politically active. If you know of any criminal activity taking place in your community, it is both your religious and civic duty to immediately report such activity to local and federal law enforcement agencies.
CAIR is available to help connect community leaders with attorneys in their area. Those approached by law enforcement authorities should contact the nearest CAIR chapter or email CAIR’s national Civil Rights Department at firstname.lastname@example.org. (Call 202-488-8787, ext. 7) 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.