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Texas Mosque Targeted by Hate, CAIR Urges Hate Crime Probe, Added Safety Measures After Spike in Bias Incidents

CAIR logo(WASHINGTON, D.C., 11/16/15) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today urged Muslim community leaders to consider instituting additional safety measures in response to  a spike in anti-Muslim incidents following the recent terror attacks in Paris.

“We call on local law enforcement authorities to provide extra patrols in the areas of mosques and Islamic institutions,†said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad. “We urge public officials and presidential candidates not to scapegoat American Muslims and not allow Islam to be demonized by Islamophobes or by the anti-Islamic actions or terrorists.â€

In the most recent incident, vandals targeted the Islamic Center of Pflugerville near Austin, Texas, covering the door of the mosque in feces and tearing pages of the Quran and throwing them to the ground covered with feces. CAIR is calling on state and federal law enforcement authorities to investigate that vandalism as a hate crime. [CONTACT: CAIR-San Antonio President Sarwat Husain, 210-378-9528, shusain@cair.com]

SEE: Vandalism Reported at Pflugerville Mosque

Pflugerville Mosque Vandalized, Quran Torn

Pflugerville Mosque Site of Hate Crime

Other anti-Muslim incidents reported since the Paris attacks include terror threats to Florida mosques, vandalism at a Nebraska mosque, shots fired at a Florida Muslim family’s home, hate graffiti targeting a Connecticut Muslim student, an arson attack on a Canadian mosque, a tweet threatening Michigan Muslims, and innumerable hate messages sent online and by phone.

SEE: CAIR Asks FBI to Probe Paris-Related Vandalism Targeting Nebraska Mosque

CAIR Thanks DOJ for Probe of Terror Threats to Florida Mosques, Seeks Hate Crime Charges

CAIR recommends that community leaders immediately:

1.  Request a stepped up police presence at local mosques.

2.  Ask local elected and public officials to issue statements condemning Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hate crime.

3.  Immediately report any bias incidents to police and to CAIR's Civil Rights Department at 202-742-6420 or civilrights@cair.com.

4.  Consider scheduling a town hall meeting to discuss the issue of growing Islamophobia and the need for community peace building.

Community leaders are also being asked to implement long-term safety measures outlined in CAIR’s booklet, “Best Practices for Mosque and Community Safety,” which was published in response to previous attacks on American mosques.

A free copy of the booklet may be requested by going to: http://www.cair.com/mosque-safety-guide.html

CAIR’s safety guide states in part:

“A general framework in which to think about institutional security falls within the following broad categories:

• Be Aware

• Assess Your Vulnerability

• Prepare and Plan

• Prevent

• Respond/Mitigate

• Recover

“This framework can be applied to all sorts of security issues, from hate graffiti to burglary or to an active-shooter episode. Decision-makers must decide which recommendations are best applied to their facility. They must also decide the order in which they will implement the process.â€

Other initial safety steps recommended in CAIR’s guide include:

Develop a Legal Contact List

Develop a list of attorneys who are willing to be consulted by the Muslim community in response to backlash incidents. Ask Muslim attorneys to volunteer their services to community members during this time of crisis.

Develop Positive Relationships with Law Enforcement Agencies

Community leaders should, in cooperation with local civil rights advocates and attorneys, immediately coordinate meetings between representatives of the Muslim community and local and state law enforcement agencies. These meetings should focus on ways in which the community can help improve security and on how authorities can protect Muslims, Arab-Americans and other targeted minorities from harassment and discrimination.

Meet with Elected Officials to Discuss Community Concerns

Delegations of Muslim representatives should schedule meetings with local, state and national elected representatives or their key staff to discuss community concerns.

Build Coalitions with Interfaith and Minority Groups

Meetings should be coordinated with representatives of local interfaith and minority groups. These meetings should focus on building lines of communication and support, and hearing from these groups how they deal with discrimination and bigotry.

Meet with Local School Officials to Discuss Student Safety

Representatives of the Muslim community should meet with local school and school board officials to discuss safety plans for students and to sensitize the administrators to harassment of Muslim students.

Build an Emergency Contact List

Community leaders should develop emergency email, text message and phone contact lists to be used in case of an incident that threatens the community’s safety. Local imams, Islamic center board members and Muslim activists should be on the lists. A second list should be developed containing contact information for all local law enforcement agencies.

Hold a Community Meeting to Inform Others of Safety Guidelines

Call for a meeting of the local Muslim community to discuss the information outlined in this kit. The meeting should take place at a local mosque or Islamic center and should be advertised using the emergency contact list.

Establish a Community Support Network

Establish a network of community members who can offer emotional and material support to those who may be the victims of hate crimes or discrimination. Victims should not be left alone to deal with the negative impact of such incidents. 

CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. 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.

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CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, ihooper@cair.com; CAIR Communications Coordinator Nabeelah Naeem, 202-341-4171, nnaeem@cair.com

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