Sunday, April 26, 2009

Fla. House GOP Leader Hosts Event Denying Religious Freedom
CAIR calls on Republicans to demand that Rep. Adam Hasner step down from leadership post

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 4/26/09) - The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today called on GOP leaders to demand that Rep. Adam Hasner, the head of Florida’s House Republicans, step down from his leadership post for co-hosting an event at which the speaker said Islam should not be recognized as a legitimate faith and Muslims should not have religious freedom.

In his address to the so-called “Free Speech Summit” in Delray Beach, Fla., Dutch anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders said: “Islam is not a religion. Islam is a totalitarian political ideologue. Islam [sic] heart lies at the Quran, and the Quran is a book that calls for hatred, that calls for violence, for murder, for terrorism, for war, and submission…We should also stop pretending that Islam is a religion...the right to religious freedom should not apply to Islam.

SEE: Tell GOP Lawmakers to Reject Rep. Hasner's Hate Event (United Voices)

Wilders also called for stopping Muslim immigration to the West, for removing Muslims from Western countries, for citizen loyalty oaths, for stopping the building of mosques, for closing down Islamic schools because they are “fascist” institutions, and for getting rid of “weak leaders.” He added that “we need strong leaders like here are [sic] today Allen West and Adam Hasner.”

Hasner is on the “host committee” for the conference and is pictured on an anti-Islam Internet hate site attending the event. He is shown with Pamela Geller, another conference sponsor, whose blog features categories such as “Advancing Islamic Lies,” “Islam 2008: Religion of Barbarism” and “Slavery: An Arab custom.” Geller has even been criticized by other Islamophobes for her extremism and for supporting far-right groups in Europe. She is currently involved in an Internet “flame war” over her support for an upcoming “Eurofascist” conference in Europe.

Another anti-Muslim group supporting the conference, ACT! for America, was recently involved in a controversy over a speech in Texas at which that group’s representative “described most or all Muslims in America as cooperating with terrorist organizations and supporting the overthrow of America.”

SEE: DFW Muslims Offended by Speech at Republican Women's Meeting 

“It is unconscionable that a top leader of an American state legislature would host a gathering at which the faith of millions of Americans is denigrated and their rights denied,” said CAIRNational Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper. “Republican Party leaders in Florida and nationwide must demand that Representative Hasner step down from his leadership post because of his support for Geert Wilders’ Nazi-like message.”

He said American Muslims have repeatedly called on the Republican Party to repudiate anti-Muslim bigotry within its ranks.

Hooper noted that earlier this year, Hasner attempted to block a “Florida Muslim Capitol Day.” In an e-mail to more than a dozen Jewish lobbyists, he wrote: “By now, I can't imagine you haven't heard about this upcoming lobbying day for Muslims in Tallahassee…Do you all intend to be part of an information campaign in opposition to it?”

SEE: House Leader E-Mails Alert About Muslim Event to Jewish Lobbyists (St. Petersburg Times)

In 2007, Hasner sponsored a screening of the anti-Muslim film “Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West” for state legislators.

SEE: Obsession with Hate

CAIR, America's largest Muslim civil liberties organization, has 35 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. 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.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Victor G. Mimoni, Queens Courier, 4/22/09

Queens is so diverse, there is nothing unusual about an imam giving a talk on “The Essence of Islam.” Unless it’s in a Synagogue, at a Holocaust memorial service, that is.

Rabbi Michael Weisser of the Free Synagogue of Flushing likes making the unusual commonplace, so he has invited his “friend and partner in interfaith outreach” Imam Shamsi [CQ] Ali to a special interfaith Yom HaShoah or Holocaust memorial observance.

Imam Ali is the leader of the Islamic Cultural Center in Manhattan, as well as mosques in Jamaica and Astoria. He is also a founding member of the Imams’ Council of New York.

He will be attending Sabbath evening services at the temple, at 41-60 Kissena Boulevard in downtown Flushing on Friday, April 24 at 8 p.m.

After speaking on the topic, the imam and rabbi will be available to engage “in a timely and topical interfaith dialogue.” The public is invited to attend.

“We are remembering the Holocaust by actively living the values that would have made it an impossibility,” said Rabbi Weisser, “Those of understanding, respect and tolerance toward all faiths.” (More)

The Free Synagogue is located at 41-60 Kissena Boulevard, between Sanford Avenue and Main Street. All are welcome. Free on-site parking is available. Please call 718-961-0030 or visit for more information.


Aasiya Zubair Hassan died before help came. But other Muslim women in western New York may find refuge in local support.
Erika Hayasaki, Los Angeles Times, 4/24/09

Reporting from Buffalo, N.Y. -- The mourners carried her severed body inside the white brick mosque on a frosty morning before the sun rose, before the children arrived for school.

Removing their shoes, wives and mothers shrouded in black passed through the women's prayer area, cordoned off from the men's with white drapes, and made their way to the washing room. Once inside, they slipped into sandals and, in observance of Islamic tradition, gently bathed her body on a bone-colored tile table the size of a casket to prepare it for burial.

From a distance, a woman named Samia, round-cheeked with thick eyebrows, who cooked meals at the mosque, watched the procession with horror in her heart.

Samia could not bring herself to enter the washing room or look at the victim, Aasiya Zubair Hassan, a woman she had known informally in life. She was too shaken to attend the funeral.

The two wives were connected by the close-knit Muslim community in western New York, including Buffalo, about 400 miles from New York City. But unbeknownst to each other, both shared a secret -- marriages stained by abuse.

Samia got help. Aasiya died before help came.

She was stabbed several times before being beheaded Feb. 12, inside a dull yellow warehouse that served as headquarters for the Muslim television station she founded with her husband, Muzzammil Hassan.

Muzzammil Hassan has been charged with second-degree murder in the killing, and last month pleaded not guilty.

Aasiya was 37 when she was killed -- the same age as Samia.

Early news reports, and gossip in the community, called it an "honor killing," a term that upset Muslims across the country for its implication that the abuse was tied to the couple's faith. 

Even other extremists critical of Robert Spencer’s ‘neo-Nazi’ links

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 4/24/09) - The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) revealed today that a speaker for an event next week at American University (AU) in Washington, D.C., will also take part in an upcoming “Eurofacist” conference in Europe.

Robert Spencer, publisher of the anti-Islam Internet hate site “Jihad Watch,” is scheduled to speak at AU on April 27 about “The Threat of Militant Islam.” The event is sponsored by a student group called Youth for Western Civilization (YWC), which describes itself as the “West’s right wing youth movement.” YWC’s mission statement says: “This movement is focused on the support of Western history, identity, high culture, and pride and opposition to radical multiculturalism, political correctness, racial preferences, mass immigration, and socialism.”

SEE: Youth for Western Civilization

A March 30, 2009, article in The Tennessean said of YWC: “The Southern Poverty Law Center issued a warning last month that the national founders of Youth for Western Civilization, Marcus Epstein and Kevin DeAnna, have posted to white supremacist Web sites in the past.” Center spokeswoman Heidi Beirich said of the language the group is using: "To us, it's racism, pure and simple."

SEE: Youth for Western Civilization Group at Vanderbilt Stirs Furor

In recent weeks, even other anti-Muslim Internet sites have criticized Spencer for his ties to “Eurofacists.”

SEE: Civil War Raging in Right-Wing Blogosphere

The blog “Little Green Footballs” (LGF) notes that Spencer will speak at a European conference in May “organized by a group called ‘Pro Köln’ — a successor to the notorious fascist group ‘Deutsche Liga für Volk und Heimat’ (the ‘German League for People and Homeland’).”

LGF goes on to note that the Pro Köln group “is under observation by the German inland secret service…One of the main organizers of ‘Pro Köln’ is Manfred Rouhs. Here are two photos of Rous with hardcore neo-Nazi activist Axel Reitz, who the local media call ‘the Hitler of Cologne.’”

SEE: Robert Spencer Confirmed to Attend Eurofascist Conference

In responding to LGF’s criticism, Spencer claims, “Racist parties such as the BNP and antisemites such as Jean Marie LePen's National Front are not welcome and have not been invited.”

But a September 19, 2008, article in Britain’s Independent newspaper about a similar Pro Köln conference said, “Pro Cologne [Pro Köln] claimed on its website that…guest speakers would include the French National Front leader, Jean-Marie Le Pen, and Heinz-Christan Strache, the leader of Austria's right-wing Freedom Party…Pro Cologne said the Flemish far-right leader Filip Dewinter…would address the conference today. Mario Borghezio, of Italy's Northern League, was also scheduled to attend.”

Another speaker at the May event in Europe, Pamela Geller, operates one of the Internet’s most vicious anti-Islam sites. Her blog features categories such as “Advancing Islamic Lies,” “Islam 2008: Religion of Barbarism” and “Slavery: An Arab custom.” Geller has also been criticized by other Islamophobes for her extremism and for supporting far-right groups in Europe.

Both Geller and Spencer are supporting an anti-Islam conference on April 27 in Florida. CAIR has called on Rep. Adam Hasner, the leader of that state’s House Republicans and a member of the conference’s “host committee,” to disassociate himself from the event, calling it a “hate fest.”

SEE: Fla. House GOP Leader Linked to Anti-Islam Hate Fest

In 2007, Spencer spoke at a so-called "Counterjihad Brussels 2007" conference in Belgium attended by those with links to far-right parties such as Filip Dewinter of Vlaams Belang (Belgium) and Ted Ekeroth of Sverigedemokraterna (Sweden). Both parties have been accused of either having a racist platform, a neo-Nazi past or having links to neo-Nazis and other racists.

Vlaams Belang is the successor to the Vlaams Blok party, which was banned in 2004 for being an illegal racist political faction. (Vlaams Belang's founders were Nazi collaborators in World War II.)

SEE: Court Rules Vlaams Blok is Racist 

Of Sverigedemokraterna, the International Herald Tribune wrote: “Sverigedemokraterna, or the Sweden Democrats, have been part of this country's political landscape for almost 20 years, but they were considered too close to the Nazi-inspired far-right to contend for large numbers of votes.” (7/7/06)

Robert Spencer's Jihad Watch Board Vice President Hugh Fitzgerald wrote on that hate site: "Only one group, only one belief-system, distinguishes itself by appearing incapable of fitting in. And that is Muslims, and Islam…if one really knew what Islam contained…then how could any decent person remain a Muslim?"

He also recommended that western nations be "Islam-proofed the way a house is child-proofed," compared Muslims to Nazis and urged that they be boycotted: "[I]t should not be hard to find ways to limit the spread or practice of Islam. And if in addition to whatever local, state and federal government officials do, private parties simply conduct their own boycott of goods and services offered by Muslims, in the same way that they would have refused to buy, in 1938, a German Voigtlander camera…"

CAIR, America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization, has 35 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. 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.

CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787, 202-744-7726, E-Mail:; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, 202-341-4171, E-Mail:



(SAN DIEGO, CA 4/24/09) - A representative of the San Diego office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-San Diego) yesterday spoke to university students and faculty on the topic of “Islamophobia: It’s Components, Root Causes, and Remedies.”

The talk was part of Islam Awareness Week sponsored by the California State University San Marcos (CSU San Marcos) Muslim Student Association.

"Islamophobia is a result of centuries of misperceptions and misunderstanding in the West with regards to Islam and Muslims," said CAIR San Diego Public Relations Director Edgar Hopida, who spoke at the event. “Understanding these root causes will help us find practical solutions anti-Muslim sentiment around the world.”

CAIR, America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization, has 35 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. 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.

CONTACT: CAIR-San Diego Public Relations Director Edgar Hopida, 619-913-0719, 858-278-4547, E-Mail:


Julia A. Shearson, Online Journal, 4/22/09

[Julia A. Shearson is executive director of Council on American Islamic Relations - Cleveland (CAIR).]

On March 17, 2009, the American Muslim Task Force (AMT) announced that it was considering suspending outreach ties with the FBI. The announcement came after continued civil rights abuses perpetrated by the bureau, abuses that have gone largely unchecked by Congress and the courts, and unnoticed by the American public.

After more than eight years of dialogue between the American Muslim community and the FBI, that agency continues to employ pressure tactics against the Muslim community. The dialogue has frequently been one-sided, with the Muslim community airing serious legitimate grievances that seem to fall on deaf ears.

Those inside the FBI who believe that certain policies toward the Muslim community are counterproductive apparently do not hold sway. Thus, expediency has won out over sound policy, and the advice of Muslim leaders about how to combat extremism without alienating the community remains unheeded.

The fishing expeditions, border detentions, visa revocations, infiltrations, provocations, and arrests continue, as do the abuses involving the watch-lists, the national security letters, and the immigration system. Outspoken Muslim leaders and groups continue to be demonized and marginalized.

When it became clear in February that the FBI was sending agents provocateurs like the ex-convict Craig Monteilh into Muslim houses of worship, the AMT was forced to consider the suspension of outreach ties. The possible suspension would in no way affect the duty to report crimes or threats of violence to our nation’s law enforcement agencies.

To continue business as usual would be unwise, particularly for organizations and individuals whose civil rights mission must trump their desire for good public relations.

The AMT statement has caught the attention of those in Congress who hold civil rights dear, such as Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) who read from the AMT’s list of alleged FBI abuses while questioning FBI Director Robert Mueller before the Judiciary Committee on March 25. Senator Feingold wanted to know whether the new attorney general guidelines were “helping or hurting the FBI’s relationship with the U.S. Muslim community.”

“My expectation is that our relationships are as good now as before the guidelines generally across the country,” said Mueller. In reality, there has been a clamor against the guidelines from Arab-American, American Muslim and civil liberties groups from the outset.

The guidelines represent a radical policy shift. They give the FBI authority to use intrusive investigative techniques to collect information in the absence of particularized evidence of a crime or risk to national security. They allow religion and ethnicity to be taken into consideration in opening an investigation. They also diminish the ability of Congress and the Department of Justice to oversee FBI investigative operations by delaying or eliminating altogether certain reporting requirements between the field offices and headquarters for some types of investigations.

Tellingly, when Sen. Feingold asked Director Mueller about the numbers of “threat assessments” being conducted, the director could not say. Under the new guidelines, threat assessments are not reported to headquarters, making oversight even more difficult.

In pushing the guidelines through in the last days of the Bush administration, Attorney General Mukasey left the new attorney general, Eric Holder, in a quandary. There is significant pressure for Holder to revisit the guidelines, but he will likely find the task difficult. The guidelines are a milestone in the FBI’s efforts to reconstitute itself as the United States’ premier domestic intelligence agency.

In reality, the unveiling of the guidelines was likely no more than a public debut of what had already been going on in the bureau since 9/11.

Take for example the successful young engineer in Ohio who was recently stripped of his visa by the State Department and then given a chance to redeem it by becoming an informant for the FBI. When he politely demurred, he and his young wife were sent packing by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) back to the Middle East. Essentially, the crushing power of three US agencies were brought to bear in abridging his due process rights.

Sen. Feingold was right to ask about the relationship between the FBI and the American Muslim community. To get a clearer picture, he should hold in-depth hearings and gather testimony from Muslims affected by FBI tactics.

And before making a decision on the new guidelines, the attorney general and the inspector general of the Department of Justice should meet with a wide range of Muslim groups and individuals to hear their perspective.


Frederick Ellis Dashiell Jr., Bay State Banner, 4/23/09

In a meeting last Saturday, Warren Bamford, special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Boston field office, and outgoing U.S. Attorney Michael J. Sullivan reassured members of the local Somali Muslim community that the FBI works to protect the civil rights of American citizens.

“Investigating civil rights violations is one of the top priorities of the FBI,” Sullivan said.

The meeting drew about 50 attendees to the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center in Roxbury and was a follow-up to one held in November, at which time Bamford outlined a strategy to begin outreach efforts aimed at establishing a partnership between the FBI and Boston’s Somali community. (More)


Ahmed Rehab, Huffington Post, 4/23/09

[Ahmed Rehab is Executive Director of the Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. CAIR is the nation’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization.]

On a brisk late morning last week, over 100 loud and colorful protesters organized by the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR), an organization on whose board I sit, lined up on the corner of Clark and Grand. The protesters, young and old, men and women, white, black, Arab, Latino, and Asian came to register their dismay with Congressman Mark Kirk (R-IL) over the anti-immigrant remarks he has made recently.

This was the site of Chicago's upscale Italian eatery, Maggiano's. The City Club of Chicago was hosting a luncheon at the restaurant and Kirk was the keynote speaker. Protesters carried signs saying "We Are America," "Get Real Mark Kirk," and handed "condoms" to guests as they made their way into the restaurant - more on that later.

I stood there for a few minutes enjoying the sights and sounds of democracy at work before I had to get inside. I had received a ticket and would represent ICIRR at the banquet. As I sat at my crowded table, I could see that many of the guests were sifting through the material protesters had handed them outside. The material quoted Kirk on his ant-Latino and anti-Arab remarks and raised awareness on the need for real solutions to the immigration crisis our nation has ignored for far too long.

Kirk was introduced and got off to an interesting start. For the first few minutes, he spoke mostly in Spanish though most of the audience was clearly white. He went on about his days in Mexico as a student and how he liked Mexico and loved President Calderon, who is one of his "heroes." It was unclear what the context of that introduction was as it really did not tie in to the rest of his speech. I suppose he had seen the protest outside and this was his beat-around-the-bush way of overcompensating for something or another.

Kirk's speech covered three areas: national security, health care and the economy. He seemed poised and articulate and managed to get a few laughs. And then all too quickly, the question and answer session came up, I managed to get my question in, and the laughter was gone:

"Congressman, what is your stance on comprehensive immigration reform (CIR), do you believe in racial profiling, and what solution do you propose for the 12 million undocumented?"

Gone was his smile, gone too was the poise, and gone was the eloquence. In their place stood a shaky and stuttering Mark Kirk.

Plodding along, Kirk began with the easy one: "I am against racial profiling."

He said it kind of quickly and unsurely, but he said it.

You see it was none other than Mark Kirk who, On November 5, 2005, during another Q&A segment at Northwestern University, stated: "I'm okay with discrimination against young Arab males from terrorist-producing states. I'm okay with that."

Now you tell me, which Mark Kirk are we supposed to believe?

If it is the discrimination-is-cool Mark Kirk, then we have a serious problem on our hands: a Congress that has racists for leaders. If it is the I-am-against-racial-profiling Mark Kirk, then that is to be welcomed. But first, he needs to put his money where his mouth is. He needs to recant his explicit support for discrimination and apologize for it. Only then will his record on the subject be settled. Until then, it remains in limbo at best.

Mind you, that was the good part of his three-bit answer to my three-bit question.

On the CIR part, Kirk took the audience on a whirlwind tour of the Mexican cartel drug war, failing to explain the significance of that to the question. Kirk does not need to convince anyone that the cartel war is bad news. The pro-immigrant community are all against it, in both heart and mind. But we are also against using it as a divergence card to escape a response to a problem that will not go away by pretending it will: our broken immigration system.

Kirk finally wrapped up his cartel sermon by stating that only when we succeed in having secured borders will there be a bi-partisan push for comprehensive immigration reform.


Secure borders are absolutely necessary, but that is not a precondition to CIR, it is part of CIR. There is no reason why other aspects of CIR cannot be rolled out in parallel with policies that ensure secure borders in the south.

Lastly, Kirk addressed the 12 million part of the question. Actually, I lied. He didn't. I am not sure what happened to that part. Either he conveniently forgot it, or he blatantly evaded it. Either way, it went right back under the carpet where it has been repeatedly shoved back, far and deep, by one weak-kneed politician after another.

Here's my issue with that: we send our representatives to Washington to tackle the nation's tough problems, not run away from them. The problems don't run away and they'll be right there waiting for them when they get back - if they ever get back.

The moral of the story is this: far too many Washington leaders simply lack a solution to our broken immigration system. That's why they mumble, stutter, or evade. But the fact is, it is broken and someone has to fix it.

When leaders like Kirk manage to come up with ridiculous responses like "passing out condoms in Mexico" or being "OK with discrimination," it is not because they are stupid. And I am willing to believe it is not even because they are racist. The fact is they come up with them because they have no real solutions -- and so they brain fart.

There is a way forward in which America can deal in a humane, civil, and fair manner with the 12 million workers in this country living in the shadows of our system; ensure strong, secure borders; and enable fair and consistent visa and naturalization programs. It's called fix what is broken, or as we call it, CIR.

President Obama has declared his intention to deal with CIR in the near future. Leaders from coast to coast have as well. But there are still far too many weak-kneed leaders who seek refuge from destiny under the let's-close-our-eyes-and-hope-it-will-go-away tree.

It's time they caught on, and it's up to us the voters to send them a clear message.


U.S. officials seek foreign -language speakers to make sure no group of people is left out
Georgia East, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 4/23/09

Urdu anyone?

How about Hindi, Vietnamese or Q'anjob'al?

With Census 2010 about a year away, the U.S. Census Bureau is recruiting employees with hard-to-find language skills to canvass South Florida communities and build relationships.

"This is the first time we're making such a concerted effort to hire people with these skills," said Pam Page Bellis, a census spokeswoman for Florida.

Census officials want to make sure no one is left out of the count, and they know that newcomers may be more comfortable speaking their native languages. They used census data and information from community leaders to determine which languages were most needed. . .

"The issue of reaching the minority community is one of our highest goals because, traditionally, minorities are the ones who are not counted," said Scott Medvin, with Broward County's Census 2010 Complete Count Committee.

Altaf Ali, of Pembroke Pines, said he wasn't surprised to learn the Census Bureau was looking for employees who speak Urdu, the language of Pakistan.

"The growth in the Indo-Pakistani and Arabic community in South Florida is evident in the Islamic centers that are popping up here and there," said Ali, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. (More)

Independent apparatus needed for investigation of Operation Cast LeadOn 22 April, the results of the Israeli military's internal investigations of Operation Cast Lead were published, indicating that dozens of innocent civilians were killed due to what the army referred to as "rare mishaps." In response, B'Tselem pointed out crucial flaws in the investigations.

Israel and the Palestinians must assist the UN missionB'Tselem welcomes the appointment of the jurist Richard Goldstone to head the fact-finding mission, called for by the UN Human Rights Council, to investigate the recent fighting in Gaza. Particularly welcome is the delegation's mandate, which covers violations of international humanitarian law by both sides, in the Gaza Strip and in Israel.

B'Tselem to JAG: Order end to firing tear-gas grenades at peopleB'Tselem has again demanded the Judge Advocate General to order security forces to cease firing tear-gas grenades directly at individuals. The demand follows the death of Bassem Abu Rahma, a Palestinian demonstrator, who was killed on 17 April '09 when struck by a tear-gas grenade while demonstrating in Bil'in.

House demolition in Jerusalem: collective punishmentOn 7 April, security forces demolished the apartment, in Zur Baher, East Jerusalem, of the family of Husam Dwayat, who carried out a bulldozer attack in the center of Jerusalem in July of last year. The demolition took place after the High Court of Justice denied the family's petition opposing the action.

Testimony: Settlers assault young pregnant PalestinianOn 10 April, Roqaya al-Hazalin, together with a group of women and children, were grazing sheep near their village, in the Hebron District. According to her testimony, four armed settlers with sticks approached them. The other shepherds she was with ran away. Two of the settlers caught al-Hazalin, who was eight months' pregnant, beat her, and knocked her to the ground.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

CAIR Seeks FBI Response to NY Rep’s Claim of Mosque Surveillance 
Rep. Peter King alleges that ‘a number’ of district mosques being watched

(NEW YORK, N.Y., 4/20/2009) - The New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY) today called on the FBI to confirm or deny a claim by Rep. Peter King (R-NY) that “a number” of Long Island mosques are under law enforcement surveillance.

In a recent Newsday interview, King said, "right now there are a number of [Long Island] mosques under surveillance by law enforcement agencies.” King also claimed the mosques have been under surveillance “for four or five years.”

King’s allegations about spying on mosques in his district came in response to a CAIR-NY statement last week calling on elected representatives to repudiate the congressman’s claim that “very few Muslims come forward to cooperate with the police.”

SEEPeter King Remarks About Mosques Draw Muslim Ire (Newsday)
SEE ALSOPeter King: I Stand By My Comments on Muslims (Newsday)

CAIR-NY said that if true, such blanket scrutiny would contradict public assurances by the FBI that American houses of worship are not subject to routine surveillance.

In responding to ongoing Muslim concerns about reports of informants and agents provocateurs being placed in American mosques, FBI spokesman John Miller stated recently: “The FBI does not investigate mosques, we investigate people.” (Washington Post, 3/28/09)

SEESome Influential Muslim Groups Question FBI's Actions (LA Times)
SEE ALSOMuslims Describe FBI Offers to Act as Informants (Detroit News)
U.S. Muslim Coalition Considers Suspending Relations with FBI

At a recent Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) asked FBI Director Robert Mueller “whether mosques have been entered by FBI agents or informants without disclosing their identities under the authority of the attorney general guidelines and, if so, how many?” Mueller stated: “I will say that we do not focus on institutions, we focus on individuals.”

SEEFBI Director Questioned about Muslim Relations

In a 2008 statement refuting claims that surveillance records of mosques in California were illegally obtained and disseminated by a group operating out of the Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, the FBI said:

"The FBI does not monitor the lawful activities of individuals in the United States, nor does the FBI have a surveillance program to monitor the constitutionally protected activities of houses of worship. We do not target or monitor legal activity of Muslim groups anywhere in the nation."

SEECongress Asked to Probe Surveillance of California Muslims

“Congressman King’s claim that law enforcement authorities are engaged in widespread surveillance of Islamic houses of worship in his district raises serious civil liberties concerns that must be addressed,” said CAIR-NY Community Affairs Director Faiza N. Ali. “King’s repeated use of Islamophobic rhetoric is of deep concern to Muslims in his district and to the entire American Muslim community.”

She said King's claims that American Muslims are not doing enough to support national security and law enforcement agencies are contradicted by FBI Director Mueller, who on April 23, 2008,told theU.S. House Judiciary Committee: “I re-affirm the fact that 99.9 percent of Muslim-Americans or Sikh-Americans, Arab-Americans are every bit as patriotic as anybody else in this room, and that many of our cases are a result of the cooperation from the Muslim community in the United States.”

At the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on March 25, 2009, Director Mueller said the Muslim community “has been tremendously supportive and worked very closely with [the FBI] in a number of instances around the country.”

In a 2003 interview with The Minaret magazine, Mueller said: “I would like to thank the Muslim Americans for their support on the war against terrorism and working with the FBI around the country as well as state and local law enforcement.”

In 2007, CAIR called on Republican leaders to repudiate remarks by Rep. King in which he said “we have too many mosques in this country.” The Democratic National Committee (DNC) condemned King’s statements, calling them “deplorable.”

SEERep. King: 'Too Many Mosques' (Video)

King has in the past claimed that the vast majority of mosques in his state and nationwide are being run by "radicals" and called for racial profiling of Muslims in airports.

SEEKing Endorses Ethnic Profiling (Newsday)

(Note: King has taken political donations from members of a New York mosque he claims is a hotbed of radicalism. A Newsday article stated: “Rep. Peter King is attempting to link his political opponent to men he calls ‘radical’ Muslim leaders on Long Island, but federal records show the congressman accepted thousands of dollars last year in campaign contributions from some of the same donors.”)

In 2004, King said that "85 percent" of American Muslim community leaders are "an enemy living amongst us" and that "no [American] Muslims" cooperate in the war on terror. He made these claims despite the fact that American Muslims consistently condemn terrorism and work to protect national security.

SEECAIR’s Anti-Terrorism Campaigns

During a 2008 hearing of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing & Terrorism Risk Assessment, Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) challenged King’s criticism of an advertising campaign in New York subway cars designed to educate the public about Islam. Rep. Pascrell said: “I am deeply disappointed in any public official or media outlet that would use harsh rhetoric against this ad campaign which simply seeks to answer people’s questions about Islam.”

CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties group and has 35 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, protect civil liberties, and empower American Muslims.