Muslims call raids "Fishing Expedition"
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Washington-based Islamic advocacy group, today said raids Wednesday on a number of Islamic institutions and homes in Virginia and Georgia were a "fishing expedition" that will only serve to intimidate law-abiding Muslim citizens.
In a statement issued at a packed Capitol Hill news conference, CAIR Governmental Affairs Director Jason Erb said: (Representatives of some 25 local, national and international media outlets attended the news conference.)
"The Muslim community is deeply concerned about what appears to be a fishing expedition by federal authorities using McCarthy-like tactics in a search for evidence of wrongdoing that does not exist.
"Unfortunately, investigators are well aware that in the current climate of fear and prejudice, few people will ask the tough questions about why these respected individuals and groups were targeted. Vague and unsubstantiated references to 'links' or 'ties' to infamous names and organizations should not be a substitute for credible evidence.
"As in past incidents targeting American Muslim institutions, no one is being given their day in court to confront accusers or refute allegations. Where then does one go to retrieve a reputation damaged by an irresponsible and out-of-control investigation?
"All Americans have a justifiable desire to feel secure in this time of international crisis. But security need not be gained by destroying the civil liberties and standards of due process that we all hold dear."
Groups represented at or endorsing today's news conference included CAIR, American Muslim Council, Islamic Circle of North America, Islamic Institute, Islamic Society of North America, Muslim Alliance in North
America, Muslim Public Affairs Council, and Muslim American Society.
U.S. Muslims condemn Church attack in Pakistan
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a prominent Washington-based Islamic advocacy group, today condemned a grenade attack on a Pakistani church that left five people dead, including two Americans.
In a statement, CAIR Board Chairman Omar Ahmad said:
"We condemn this attack in the strongest terms possible and call for the apprehension of the perpetrators. It is not only an act of terrorism against innocent civilians, but is also an assault on the sanctity of a
house of worship. No political or religious cause could justify such horrifying violence."
Muslims react to Imam Jamil Al-Amin verdict
On Monday, March 11, the National Support Committee for Imam Jamil Al-Amin* will hold a news conference in Atlanta, Ga., to offer the American Muslim community's reaction to today's verdict by an Atlanta jury that found Al-Amin guilty of killing one Fulton County sheriff's deputy and wounding another. The news conference will take place at 10 a.m. (EST) in front of Atlanta's Fulton County Courthouse, located at the corner of Martin Luther King and Pryor streets.
In a statement issued today, the support committee said:
"We do not believe the facts presented in court warranted a guilty verdict against Imam Jamil. His defense team offered credible evidence indicating that he was not the person who shot the deputies. We believe Imam Jamil will be exonerated on appeal.
"Because the death penalty has been disproportionately applied to minority defendants in America, we oppose its use in this, or any other trial.
"The American Muslim community and its leadership will continue to support the cause of justice in this case and will work to ensure that Imam Jamil is able to exercise all the rights he is entitled to under the law."
* The National Support Committee for Imam Jamil: (in alphabetical order) Al-Ummah (Imam Jamil Al-Amin), American Muslim Alliance, American Muslim Foundation, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Islamic Circle of North America, Islamic Society of North America, Muslim Alliance in North America, Muslim American Society, Muslim Public Affairs Council, Students Alliance for Imam Jamil, Women in Islam Justice Committee
Ashcroft asked to clarify offensive remarks on Islam
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today joined other Muslim and Arab-American groups in calling on Attorney General John Ashcroft to clarify offensive remarks he allegedly made in December about the faith of Islam.
According to an interview with syndicated columnist Cal Thomas published on the internet site crosswalk.com, Ashcroft said: "Islam is a religion in which God requires you to send your son to die for him. Christianity is a faith in which God sends his son to die for you." Despite several requests from Muslim and Arab-American groups, Ashcroft has not responded publicly.
"If true, these remarks are inaccurate, offensive and are unbecoming of a law enforcement official who is currently initiating and administering policies that have a disproportionate impact on Muslims. His remarks are
also in direct contradiction to President Bush's repeated statements of respect for Islam," said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad. He called on the president and other public officials to distance themselves from Ashcroft's remarks.
Awad cited the hundreds of Muslim detainees held following the September 11 terrorist attacks, the "voluntary" interviews of legal Muslim visa holders, the closure of immigration hearings, and profiling of Muslim and Arab-American airline passengers as examples of policies impacting Muslims. He added that just last Friday, media reports indicated that law enforcement authorities will focus on apprehending illegal Muslim and Arab immigrants who have ignored deportation orders, despite the fact that the vast majority of 314,000 so-called "absconders" are not Muslim or Arab.
"It is hard to see how policies such as these, which after all are based on racial and religious profiling, can be administered in an unbiased manner given Mr. Ashcroft's apparent hostility toward Islam," said Awad.
There are an estimated seven million Muslims in America and some 1.2 billion worldwide. CAIR has received more than 1700 reports of anti-Muslim backlash since the September 11 terrorist attacks.