(WASHINGTON, D.C., 5/23/13) -- The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, said today it is distributing new safety and security guidelines to mosques and other Islamic institutions nationwide.
CAIR said the first phase of the distribution will focus on mosques in the Washington, D.C., area.
The new CAIR publication, "Best Practices for Mosque and Community Safety," was produced in response to recent bias attacks, including a series of incidents last year targeting American Muslim institutions.
[NOTE: Just today, the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR.CAN) condemned an attempted arson targeting a Vancouver mosque.]
CAIR's guidelines, which include safety recommendations drafted by a leading security consultant, are 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.
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The mosque safety booklet includes an introduction from CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad and sections outlining initial security steps to take and how to assess an institution's vulnerability to attack.
Other sections include a checklist for safety preparation and planning, details on security equipment, how to deal with an armed intruder, procedures for handling bomb threats or suspicious packages, and links to security resources available from private and government sources.
"Muslim community leaders, like leaders of other faith communities, have a duty to do whatever they can to ensure public safety and security," said CAIR's Awad. "These important safety guidelines should be studied and implemented by everyone in a community leadership position."
Last year, CAIR issued "Thirteen Days in Ramadan," a report on a spike in anti-mosque incidents that occurred in late August of 2012.
More recently, CAIR welcomed a 20-year jail sentence for the man who set fire to a Toledo, Ohio, mosque in September 2012.
The trial for a man accused of firebombing an Oregon mosque in 2010 has been postponed by pre-trial motions.
CAIR has responded to similar attacks on American mosques since its founding almost 20 years ago.
As early as 1994, a nearly completed mosque in Yuba City, Calif., burned to the ground in what was ruled an arson attack.
In 1995, arson destroyed a Springfield, Ill., Islamic center. In 1996, a suspect was charged for involvement in an arson attack on a Greenville, S.C., mosque. In 1999, an arson attack severely damaged a Minneapolis, Minn., mosque. Also in 1999, a would-be terrorist was arrested after fleeing from the area of a mosque near Denver, Colo. The suspect's car was found to contain loaded weapons and bomb-making materials.
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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