(SACRAMENTO, CA, 6/14/05) – The Sacramento Valley office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-SV) recently hosted a series of “Know Your Rights” workshops in Lodi and Stockton, Calif., prompted by reports of what local Muslims called “harassment” by FBI agents. Sunday’s workshop in Stockton, attended by some 200 area Muslims, was the last of three sessions designed to inform community members about their legal rights. Both California communities were targeted by the FBI following the highly-publicized arrest or detention of several local Muslims. Speakers at the workshop included attorneys with the Bay Area Association of Muslim Lawyers and representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL). CAIR-SV officials say they have received numerous reports of intimidating tactics used recently by some FBI agents. Reports of inappropriate conduct by law enforcement officials include threats of arrest or deportation used to coerce cooperation, unnecessary use of force, denial of medical treatment, and constant FBI surveillance of regular mosque attendees.
One person said FBI agents told him they would arrest him for “jaywalking” unless he agreed to be interviewed. Another said he was told not to retain an attorney. Two local Muslims told CAIR-SV they felt compelled to quit their jobs after agents “humiliated” them at work. Others complained of lie detector sessions in which they were accused of lying after answering the same question asked in a variety of ways. “Law enforcement authorities have every right to follow up on legitimate leads in any investigation, but a ’round up the usual suspects’ approach will only serve to intimidate those whose cooperation is sought,” said CAIR-SV Executive Director Basim Elkarra. Elkarra said he informed law enforcement officials of the Muslim community’s concerns at a meeting in Lodi on Saturday. He added that CAIR publishes a free “Know Your Rights Pocket Guide” that outlines the legal rights of American citizens and permanent residents in a variety of situations. To order a pocket guide, go to: https://www.cair-net.org/comersus/store/comersus_viewItem.asp?idProduct=1020
CAIR, America’s largest Muslim civil liberties group, has 31 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. 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. To read CAIR’s Mission, Vision Statement and Core Principles, go to: http://www.cair-net.org/default.asp?Page=About
CONTACT: CAIR-SV Executive Director Basim Elkarra, 916-441-6269, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR-National, Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail: email@example.com; Rabiah Ahmed, 202-488-8787 or 202-439-1441, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
NOTE: CAIR offers an e-mail list designed to be a journalist’s window to the American Muslim community. Subscribers to the list, called ISLAM-INFONET, receive news releases and other materials dealing with American Muslim positions on issues of importance to our society. To SUBSCRIBE to ISLAM-INFONET, go to: http://cair.biglist.com/islam-infonet/