Authorities say they want Muslims to be vigilant and vocal about extremists in their neighborhoods, and the Islamic community says it needs authorities to be protective of their civil rights.

That dynamic played out Monday afternoon when U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie, visited the Interfaith Dialog Center in Newark, a Turkish Muslim organization. Levent Koc of Clifton, the center’s executive director, invited Christie to discuss his five priorities for law enforcement in New Jersey.

Topping the list was fighting domestic terrorism, Christie said.

An audience of about 30, including several prominent law enforcement officials and members of the Muslim community, listened intently. Among them were Bergen County Sheriff Leo P. McGuire and Mohamed El Filali, outreach director for the Islamic Center of Passaic County.

After Christie concluded his remarks, El Filali pulled McGuire close and whispered something in the sheriff’s ear. McGuire stepped close to Christie and spoke. The conversation was about the plight of Mohammad Qatanani, the Islamic Center’s imam who is facing deportation because of a 1993 arrest that landed him in an Israeli jail for three months.

“Anything we can do for him,” McGuire said of Qatanani. “He has our full support. He’s a great guy.”


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