CAIR-NY Calls for Increased Safety Measures After Attack at Queens Mosque
(NEW YORK, N.Y., 4/20/16) — The New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY) today urged that state’s Muslim community to step up security measures in mosques after worshippers were attacked yesterday in Jamaica Muslim Center in Queens, N.Y.
Michael Voyard, 26, reportedly charged into Jamaica Muslim Center during the afternoon prayer service shouting, “I am a Prophet, give me a Quran.” He punched two men and then ran outside, where he ripped a car mirror from a vehicle in which a Muslim woman was a passenger. One victim that Voyard allegedly punched is a 69-year-old congregant who was admitted at Jamaica Hospital.
“We call on community leaders to step up security measures and urge law enforcement authorities to investigate this attack thoroughly and to prosecute the alleged perpetrator with appropriate charges,” said CAIR-NY Director of Operations Sadyia Khalique.
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-NY is a chapter of 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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