Fingerprinting proposal is discriminatory say Muslims
A national Islamic advocacy group said today that new Justice Department guidelines requiring Muslim and Middle Eastern visa holders to register with the government and be fingerprinted are discriminatory and counterproductive.
More than 100,000 students, workers, researchers, and tourists from designated Muslim and Arab countries already in the United States would be covered by the proposal. New arrivals will be fingerprinted at points of entry.
In a statement released today at a Capitol Hill news conference, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Executive Director Nihad Awad said:
"In the post-9-11 world, we all understand the need for increased security. American Muslims, like all other citizens, want to prevent another terrorist attack in the United States. Unfortunately, policies that single out particular religious and ethnic groups create a false sense of security and end up further damaging America's image and reputation around the world.
"Recent policies targeting Muslims and Arabs, including the interviewing of 8,000 legal visa holders, the detention without due process of some 1,200 individuals, the targeting of Muslim and Arab 'absconders,' the use of secret evidence, the raids on Muslim homes and institutions, and the new FBI guidelines allowing surveillance of mosques engaged in legal activities, all failed to result in a single terrorism-related arrest. Law-abiding residents in this country should not be made the scapegoats for past intelligence failures.
"The United States was founded on the ideal of equality and nondiscrimination on the basis of ethnic origin or religion. These latest steps are nothing but the imposition of guilt by association. They show that the Department of Justice cannot distinguish between people planning or engaged in criminal activity and law-abiding residents. If these new procedures are to be introduced, they must be applied across the board, or not at all.
"Finally, we call on people of conscience to contact their elected officials to challenge the continuing erosion of civil liberties in America."
Representatives from the Muslim Public Affairs Council, Muslim American Society, and the ACLU also spoke at today's news conference.
There are an estimated seven million Muslims in America and some 1.2 billion worldwide. For background, see CAIR's "The Mosque in America: A National Portrait," at http://www.cair-net.org/mosquereport/, and "Stereotypes and Civil Liberties," at http://www.cair-net.org/civilrights2002/
A recent national poll indicated that "nearly 75 percent of Muslim Americans either know someone who has or have themselves experienced an act of anti-Muslim discrimination, harassment, verbal abuse or physical attack since September 1l." SEE: "Accounts of Anti-Muslim Discrimination Not Exaggerated," at http://www.usnewswire.com/topnews/first/0530-124.html