(WARREN, MI, 4/16/09) – The Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan (CIOM) today asks US Attorney General Eric Holder to launch an investigation into complaints that Michigan Muslims are being approached to spy on activities of Muslim congregations by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI). Through coercion of certain members of congregations, the FBI is reportedly promoting entrapment of innocent, law-abiding citizens in otherwise peaceful houses of worship.
CIOM is an umbrella organization of mosques and Islamic organizations within the state of Michigan. Its mission is to facilitate and coordinate communications and key initiatives for Michigan’s Islamic organizations; provide effective advocacy on critical social justice issues impacting American-Muslims; establish and maintain productive collaborative relationships with government, civic, legal, interfaith, social, and media organizations; and educate fellow Americans about Islam as a religion and a way of life, Muslim cultures and traditions, and critical issues and challenges facing American Muslims as well as Muslims in other parts of the world.
“We seek to ensure that our country is secure from all threats regardless of the source, but we take exception to community members being asked to spy on law-abiding Americans exercising the constitutional rights of freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of assembly,” said CIOM Chair Victor Ghalib Begg. “We call on Attorney General Holder to launch an investigation into the current methods used by the FBI, targeting entire Islamic congregations, which we believe are misdirected and un-American.”
The Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI), which is a CIOM member, has received complaints that the FBI has approached Michigan Muslims, asking them to spy on unsuspecting worshippers including monitoring their legitimate charitable donations.
Through civic and political engagement and the promotion of dialogue with interfaith leaders and law enforcement agencies, Muslim Americans have been a key, positive and stabilizing force since 9/11, in keeping our nation safe and secure from acts of violence and foreign threats. CIOM believes misdirected policies of our law enforcement agencies will lead the Muslim-American community to be fearful, distrust its Government and be less-cooperative and productive in helping agencies like FBI in its important counter-terrorism efforts. As a member organization, CIOM is appreciative of initiatives such as the “Bridges” forum, organized by the Homeland Security, but current FBI policies will make such efforts less fruitful.
Civil rights advocates have raised serious concerns in recent years that the FBI has been involved in “fishing expeditions” of entire congregations and organizations simply because of their religious/political views, with no justification or proof of any criminal activity. ACLU-Michigan in 2004 raised similar concerns about FBI targeting religious institutions in Michigan.
“Law enforcement’s time and resources should be spent on keeping us safe, not spying on people based on their religious and political beliefs,” said ACLU-Michigan Executive Director Kary Moss.
Prominent American Muslim organizations have recently raised similar concerns of the use of agent-provocateurs to entrap worshippers including youth in Southern California.
SEE: Man Says He Was Informant for FBI in Orange County (LA Times)
SEE: FBI Director Questioned About Muslim Relations (In Focus News)
CONTACT: CIOM Chair Victor Ghalib Begg, 586-808-2864, Cell