Ohio Muslims meet with FBI to discuss concerns
Leaders of the Central Ohio Islamic community met Wednesday with representatives of the FBI and state law enforcement to discuss issues of mutual concern, including a report that a Muslim in that state is suspected of being a member of al Qaeda.
Other issues addressed at the meeting, which was facilitated by the Ohio office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Ohio), included protection against anti-Muslim hate crimes, the FBI’s counterterrorism efforts and ways of improving cooperation between law enforcement and the Islamic community.
“Like all Americans, the Muslim community is concerned about the security of America,” said CAIR-Ohio Executive Director Jad Humeidan. “The leadership of the Ohio Muslim community is ready, willing and able to work with law enforcement authorities for the safety and security of this country.”
The meeting included representatives of the Columbus District Office of the FBI, Ohio Southern District Office of the FBI-Cincinnati Ohio, Ohio Department of Public Safety, Ohio Office of Homeland Security, Ohio State Highway Patrol, and the Columbus Division of Police.
James Turgal, Chief Division Council for the Cincinnati office of the FBI stated: “The Muslim community is not the target of any investigation, and they should not feel threatened or afraid to perform their religious obligations or their daily tasks.”
“The law enforcement community is lagging behind when it comes to building bridges with the Muslim community,” said Kenneth Morckel, Director of the Ohio Department of Public Safety. “There is a need to hold regular meetings with representatives of the Muslim community to update each other on ongoing issues. Also there is a need to build methods to educate each other.”
Chief John Rockwell of the Columbus Police Department assured meeting attendees that “every crime against the Muslim community will be immediately and vigorously investigated”¦The city of Columbus will not tolerate any hate crime against any of its citizens.”
CAIR-Ohio will in the near future facilitate a town hall meeting between the Muslim community and law enforcement officials. CAIR-Ohio will also provide sensitivity training to the FBI, state and local law enforcement agencies.
Meeting participants agreed that similar gatherings will be held quarterly to address any issues that might arise.
Representatives of CAIR-Ohio, Islamic Foundation of Central Ohio, Islamic Society of Greater Columbus, Sunrise Academy, and Somali Community were present at the meeting.
CAIR is America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group. It is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and has 16 regional offices nationwide and in Canada. Since its founding in 1994, CAIR has defended the civil and religious rights of all Americans. There are more than 30,000 Muslim in central Ohio, 150,000 in Ohio, and some seven million in America.