Written Statement of the Council on American-Islamic Relations on the Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community's Response
Submitted to the House Committee on Homeland Security
Testimony Prepared by: Corey P. Saylor
Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
453 New Jersey Ave., SE
Washington, DC 20003
Phone: (202) 384-8857
Fax: (202) 488-0833
Email: csaylor [at] cair [dot] com
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.
Table of Contents
- The troubling genesis and process of this hearing
- Debunking King's myths that 'fundamentalists' control most American mosques and that Muslims do not cooperate with law enforcement
- CAIR's work undermines violent extremist narratives
- CAIR's policy of constitutionally-informed engagement with law enforcement
- Civil liberties and other concerns with law enforcement
- Appendix: CAIR's Islamic messaging counters violent extremist ideology
- Appendix: CAIR and law enforcement
- Appendix: CAIR's persistent and consistent condemnation of terrorism
- Appendix: Where CAIR stands on important issues
Chairman King and Ranking Member Thompson, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) respectfully submits this testimony as part of our expression of deep concern over the Chairman's remarks and process that led to this hearing. We believe that a sober and objective hearing will allow the American Muslim community and its leadership to shine.
There is no denying that people of vile intent covet the opportunity to recruit Americans, including those of the Islamic faith, to their mindset, pull them away from the straight path and seduce them into opting for violent extremism.
CAIR is a natural enemy of violent extremists.
CAIR represents its constituents, clients and supporters through exclusively peaceful and democratic means. Objective people who are familiar with our work know that we expend enormous amounts of legal and advocacy energy defending constitutional principles, particularly the Bill of Rights.
There is also no denying that--excepting a tiny minority--violent extremists have not found fertile ground in America. Many individuals and institutions--including law enforcement, homeland security personnel, and the leaders and members of the American Muslim community--deserve a share of the credit for this.
This written submission to the hearing details our concerns with Chairman King's troubling remarks regarding American Muslims. We then offer evidence that disproves King's allegations that "fundamentalists" control most American mosques and Muslims do not cooperate with law enforcement.
Using CAIR's work as an example, we show how the efforts of American Muslim groups undermine violent extremist narratives. These efforts include the following:
- In 2006, CAIR sent National Executive Director Nihad Awad and National Legislative Director Corey Saylor to Baghdad, Iraq to appeal for the release of a kidnapped American journalist.
- In 2006, CAIR called on the government of Afghanistan to release Abdul Rahman, a man facing the death penalty for converting from Islam to Christianity.
- In 2009, CAIR officials hand-delivered a letter to Iranian President Ahmedinajad requesting that he release three American hikers detained by that nation. Also at that meeting, CAIR delivered a letter to the Iranian leader from the family of former FBI agent Robert Levinson, who has been missing in Iran since 2007.
We also outline our Muslim Youth Leadership Symposiums and Programs (MYLS/MYLP) and internships.
Our testimony then turns to examples of CAIR's policy of constitutionally-informed engagement with law enforcement. This includes examples of CAIR's work surrounding an Irvine, CA man talking of plans for a terrorist attack, five Alexandria, Va. men disappearing, "a secret training session on the use of firearms" and a Dearborn, MI man seeking opinions of Taliban and expressing desire to travel to Pakistan. We also detail some of our 2010 relations with Federal and local law enforcement.
We then offer Members of Congress insight into why there are some disputes between our community and law enforcement. These concerns include over broad surveillance of Muslims based solely on religion, concerns over FBI and other agencies pursuing lines of questioning related to First Amendment protected activities, concern over use of Muslim-Bashers as law enforcement trainers and concerns over American Muslims abroad face denial of due process and pressure to become informants. We also discuss facts relating to the "Don't talk to the FBI Poster" that Chairman King cites as evidence of our institution urging non-cooperation and false accusations that CAIR told Somalis in Minnesota not to talk to the FBI.
We offer three recommendations to Congress in light of this hearing:
- Refuse to offer a legitimizing platform to those who spout anti-Muslim bigotry.
- Consider funding Muslim community organization's programs that protect youth from violent extremist influences.
- Lawmakers should investigate legitimate concerns about law enforcement tactics and avoid granting law enforcement broad powers without appropriate checks and balances.
To supplement our testimony, we offer sections on how CAIR's Islamic messaging counters violent extremist ideology, details on CAIR and law enforcement and details on CAIR's persistent and consistent condemnation of terrorism.
We close out the supplements to our testimony by illustrating where CAIR stands on important issues such as America's founding principles, religious tolerance, apostasy, Jihad, women's rights, First Amendment free speech, freedom of worship, due process, "death fatwas," pluralism, and human rights.
In 2004, Rep. King first voiced his allegation "You could say that 80%, 85% of the mosques in this country are controlled by Islamic fundamentalists" and that average Muslims "are loyal," but "don't come forward, they don't tell the police what they know. They won't turn in their own."
In 2007, Representative King said, "Unfortunately, we have too many mosques in this country."
In early 2011, Rep. King implied that American Muslims are not "American" when it comes to protecting our nation during times of war:
"When a war begins, we're all Americans. But in this case, this is not the situation. And whether it's pressure, whether it's cultural tradition, whatever, the fact is the Muslim community does not cooperate anywhere near to the extent that it should. The irony is that we're living in two different worlds."
Chairman King led off announcing this proposed series of hearings by reciting the allegation that "over 80 percent of mosques in this country are controlled by radical imams." In January, 2011, he staunchly announced that he will "stand-by" that number.
In the six years since he first asserted this allegation, King has never pointed to an evidentiary source that objective observers can review. Instead he cites a speech given at the U.S. Department of State in the late 1990s by Hisham Kabbani, a figure who is unknown to most U.S. Muslims.
One man's opinion.
Kabbani to this day does not respond to inquiries about his source for this allegation. Such lax "one person's opinion" standards led to bad things during the Salem witch trials, the Inquisition, and the McCarthy hearings.
Next, Politico reported that according to King, Ayaan Hiirsi Ali was a potential witness at the hearing.
During the course of a single 2007 interview with Reason Magazine Ali said, "I think that we are at war with Islam" and called for Islam to be "defeated." Later in the interview, Ali suggested altering the U.S. Constitution to allow for discrimination against Muslims.
Ali was dropped once such facts became public.
Most recently, a National Review article--posted on the House Homeland Security Committee's website so presumably King felt it was accurate--announced that Walid Phares was a planned witness for the hearings.
Phares is a former official with a Christian militia implicated, by Israel's official Kahan inquiry and other sources, in the 1982 massacre of civilian men, women and children at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon.
In the late 1990s, leading members of Phares' World Lebanese Organization included the deputy commander of a group known for systematically torturing prisoners. Another leading member headed a militia known for atrocities during the Lebanese civil war.
Phares was also dropped once such facts became public.
Given King's inappropriate remarks, baseless allegations and that he voiced extremists as potential witnesses, it is reasonable to raise questions about the credibility of this hearing as a force to oppose the violent extremist threat.
Debunking King's myths that 'fundamentalists' control most American mosques and Muslims do not cooperate with law enforcement
In April 2008, FBI Director Robert Mueller, told the U.S. House Judiciary Committee: "I re-affirm the fact that 99.9 percent of Muslim-Americans ... are every bit as patriotic as anybody else in this room, and that many of our cases are a result of the cooperation from the Muslim community in the United States."
The following year, Mueller told a Senate committee the Muslim community "has been tremendously supportive and worked very closely with [the FBI] in a number of instances around the country."
RAND's Brian Michael Jenkins finds the suggestion of "an American [Muslim] population that remains hostile to jihadist ideology and its exhortations to violence" in his 2010 paper Would -Be Warriors.
Similarly, a December 2010 Congressional Research Service report cites numerous examples of Muslim community activities and federal engagement and partnership activities with Muslim-American communities.
Quintan Wiktorowicz, the new senior director for global engagement at the White House National Security Council, shattered stereotypes about Muslims and radicalization when his research found that religious Muslims are in fact the most resistant to radicalization.
"One of the important things about counterradicalization is that about perhaps 10 percent of it is law enforcement and intelligence, 90 percent of it are things that have relatively little to do with that," said Wiktorowicz. "Counterradicalization also has to include things like politicians visiting Muslim communities, messaging and beefing up education about Islam among Muslims themselves."
A 2010 report by scholars at Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill recommended that policymakers reinforce anti-radicalization activities already underway in American Muslim communities.
"Muslim-Americans organizations and the vast majority of individuals that we interviewed firmly reject the radical extremist ideology that justifies the use of violence to achieve political ends," said the report's co-author David Schanzer, director of the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security. Another of the report's authors said, "Muslim-American communities have been active in preventing radicalization."
In February, 2011 the scholars at Duke University and the University of North Carolina published "Muslim American Terrorism Since 9/11: An Accounting." The study reports that:
- While 47 Muslim-Americans committed or were arrested for terrorist crimes in 2009, the number dropped to 20 this past year.
- The number of Muslim-Americans engaged in terrorist acts with domestic targets declined from 18 in 2009 to 10 in 2010.
- Eleven Muslim Americans have successfully executed terrorist attacks in the United States since 9/11, killing 33 people. This is about 3 deaths per year. There have been approximately 150,000 murders in the United States since 9/11. According to the FBI there were approximately 15,241 murders in the United States in 2009.
- Tips from the Muslim American community provided the source of information that led to a terrorist plot being thwarted in 48 of 120 cases involving Muslim Americans.
Similarly, the Post 9/11 Terrorism Database created by the Muslim Public Affairs Council in 2009 revealed that "Muslim communities have stepped forward to help law enforcement foil over 1 out of every 3 Al Qaeda-related terror plots threatening America since 9/11."
Like the rest of the mainstream institutions representing the American Muslim community, CAIR's advocacy model is the antithesis of the narrative of anti-American extremists. Indeed, our very public record of success solidly repudiates extremist arguments that Muslims cannot get fair treatment in our nation. Anti-American extremists are well aware of CAIR's rejection of their views.
CAIR advocates for American Muslims through the media, government and all legal, traditional avenues available to public interest groups. CAIR staff and volunteers proactively train our community in strategies to improve grassroots ability to take their due roles in civic affairs and redress grievances.
Our moral position is clear. We unequivocally condemn terrorism. Any group that hurts civilians deserves condemnation. A review of CAIR releases covering 1994-2008 revealed that the organization issued 84 individual releases condemning terrorism in that period.
In January 2009, the United States Institute of Peace acknowledged CAIR's vigorous condemnation of violence committed in the name of Islam in its report "Islamic Peacemaking Since 9/11."
We are proud of our principled advocacy even when that advocacy requires stances that are not politically correct.
In truth, however, condemnations alone do not solve problems. That is why CAIR's moral position, prompted by the basic Islamic principle that no one has the right to take innocent life, is backed by action.
CAIR has its sent staff to Baghdad to appeal for the release of a kidnapped American journalist; produced anti-terror public service announcements in English, Arabic and Urdu; coordinated an Islamic anti-terror religious ruling (fatwa); raised money for rebuilding churches in the wake of Middle East violence and called on Islamic religious leaders to deliver anti-terror messages in their sermons.
CAIR has condemned specific terrorist actions against Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Americans, Spaniards, Turks, Israelis, Saudis, Russians, Egyptians, Jordanians, Iraqis, British, and so on.
CAIR has condemned specific terrorist groups by name. On 3/11/2009, the fifth anniversary of the tragic Madrid attacks, CAIR issued a statement saying, "We unequivocally condemn all acts of terrorism, whether carried out by al-Qa'ida, the Real IRA, FARC, Hamas, ETA, or any other group designated by the U.S. Department of State as a 'Foreign Terrorist Organization.'
In 2007, CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad joined 137 other Muslim leaders and scholars from around the world in sending a first-of-its-kind open letter designed to promote understanding between Muslims and Christians worldwide. The letter, entitled "A Common Word Between Us and You," was sent to Pope Benedict XVI, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and more than 20 other Christian leaders. Awad is also an original endorser of the Amman Message and its three points of tolerance.
CAIR uses the international prestige earned through its domestic programs to make humanitarian appeals. In 2009, CAIR officials hand-delivered a letter to Iranian President Ahmedinajad requesting that he release three American hikers detained by that nation. Also at that meeting, CAIR delivered a letter to the Iranian leader from the family of former FBI agent Robert Levinson, who has been missing in Iran since 2007. Similarly, in 2009, CAIR staff spoke directly to the Iranian President urging him to release journalist Roxana Saberi.
In 2006, CAIR called on the government of Afghanistan to release Abdul Rahman, a man facing the death penalty for converting from Islam to Christianity. In that release, CAIR offered a religious basis for opposition to apostasy laws.
CAIR's Youth-Specific Programs
CAIR staff and volunteers are not de-radicalizers. This is a specialized function and the psychological expertise necessary for such de-programming is not part of CAIR's advocacy and civil liberties mission.
However, by their very nature, many of CAIR's long-standing programs empower people, fostering a healthy American Muslim identity that fits comfortably within pluralistic American society while true to its faith values, and rebutting extremist assertions that we are currently engaged in a "clash of civilizations."
Youth Program 1: Muslim Youth Leadership Symposiums and Programs (MYLS/MYLP)
The core mission of the Muslim Youth Leadership Symposium (MYLS)--in some areas called the Muslim Youth Leadership Program (MYLP)--is to provide American Muslim youth with a proactive agenda for positive activism; empower them to guide their communities from the margin to the mainstream; and foster a healthy American Muslim identity that fits comfortably within pluralistic American society while true to its faith values.
MYLS/MYLP sessions offer young Muslims concrete ways through which they can leverage their very faith values toward constructive citizenship that benefits community and country.
CAIR's first MYLS/MYLP event took place in California in 2005. Between July and December 2010, CAIR held MYLS programs in Washington state, California, Illinois, Michigan, and Oklahoma. CAIR-Ohio took over 100 Muslim school students to the state capitol where they met with a state senator, toured the state capitol, learned about the legislative process and came up with proposals of their own for new legislation.
Youth Program 2: Internships
CAIR interns from past years have gone on to serve on the staff of the White House, U.S. Congress, State Department and other government agencies.
In just the last six months of 2010, fourteen interns worked in CAIR's national office.
Beyond their professional duties at the CAIR headquarters, interns observed interviews at CNN and FOX. They also attended congressional hearings and events designed to help young Muslims network within the Washington, DC political and business sectors. Interns also routinely attend Friday prayers at the U.S. Capitol building. CAIR interns, both Muslims and those of other faiths, are immersed in the work of the organization's three primary departments: civil rights, media relations, and government affairs.
Even one incident of violent radicalism is too many. Like the rest of the mainstream institutions representing the American Muslim community, CAIR believes it is both our civic and religious duty to work with law enforcement to protect our nation.
That said, CAIR's primary function is as a civil liberties and advocacy organization. We are not law enforcement. Our staff are neither trained as, nor empowered to be, investigators. We make this point because some in the wider society expect Islamic institutions to have prescient knowledge of criminal activity by Muslims. Such a notion is ridiculous.
Like any long-term relationship, our interactions with law enforcement include some disagreements and disputes. We will detail these later in the next section of this testimony.
1996: First documented CAIR-led law enforcement bridge building function
The organization's first documented attempt to build bridges between American Muslims and those who enforce our nation's laws was on March 26, 1996. (CAIR was founded in 1994.) A public release issued by CAIR on that date relates how staff arranged a meeting between representatives of the local and national Muslim community and the Colorado Attorney General, a U.S. Attorney and representatives from the Adams County District Attorney's office. An incomplete, but extensive, listing of such interactions is presented both in the "CAIR and law enforcement" section and in this section of our testimony.
As a highly visible, grassroots organization, there are times CAIR receives information or reports from community-members that we feel contain elements that should be brought to the attention of law enforcement.
2006 and 2010: Irvine, CA man talks of plan for a terrorist attack and five Alexandria, VA men disappear
The Congressional Research Service (CRS) in its report American Jihadist Terrorism: Combating a Complex Threat, relates two instances of CAIR working with authorities regarding persons of concern:
- "The  story of the five men from the Alexandria, Virginia area ... became public when the Council on American-Islamic Relations got their families in touch with the FBI after the five left the United States without telling their families."
- "Posing as a new convert, Monteilh arrived at the Irvine Islamic Center in 2006 wearing robes and a long beard, using the name Farouk al-Aziz. Monteilh had a criminal record that included serving 16 months in state prison on two grand theft charges. Members of the Islamic Center of Irvine were reportedly alarmed about Monteilh and his talk of jihad and plans for a terrorist attack. The local chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations reported him to the Irvine police and obtained a three-year restraining order against him." [Note: It was later revealed the Monteilh was an FBI informant.]
2005 "a secret training session on the use of firearms"
On March 23, 2005 CAIR's then national legal director, Arsalan Iftikhar, sent a letter to the then assistant director in charge of the FBI's Washington field office. The letter reported an individual claiming to represent a group of 300 who claimed to be "receiving a secret training session on the use of firearms" and planned to "send some volunteers to Iraq, Palestine and Israel, under the guise of going for an Islamic conference."
Iftikhar's letter also refered to "a meeting a few months back at FBI headquarters as to how CAIR can help law enforcement agencies. ... "
Iftikhar was referring to a late 2004 meeting between senior CAIR officials and Cassie Chandler, then assistant director for public affairs, and Gary Bald, then assistant director for counterterrorism, in the FBI's Washington, D.C., headquarters to discuss ways to improve the working relationship between CAIR and the FBI.
During that meeting, the FBI officials requested that CAIR make changes to our "Know Your Rights Pocket Guide: Your Rights and Responsibilities as an American Muslim." CAIR willingly agreed to make the changes, incurring costs to ourselves for revising the document. Since that time the document includes the following language:
"If you know of any criminal activity taking place in your community, it is both your religious and civic duty to immediately report such activity to local and federal law enforcement agencies."
2009: Dearborn, MI Man seeking opinions of Taliban and expressing desire to travel to Pakistan
In June 2009, the President of the American Moslem Society Mosque in Dearborn, Michigan, Mahdi Ali, contacted CAIR-Michigan Executive Director Dawud Walid stating that a white male convert was approaching youth during their Friday night gatherings. The convert would inquire if attendees thought the Taliban was good and how could he travel to Pakistan. Walid asked the mosque president to inform the man that such talk to the youth was not acceptable and that he should attempt to get a copy of the convert's I.D.
Walid then called FBI Special Agent in Charge Andrew Arena and alerted him to this issue. The FBI came to CAIR-MI's office to get more information about this man from Mahdi Ali while former CAIR-MI attorney Melanie Elturk and current Executive Director Dawud Walid were present. SAC Arena later informed Walid that the convert was picked up by the FBI and was found to suffer from mental health issues.
2010: CA "Youth radicalization" focus group and "seeking the straight path conference"
CAIR-LA gathered a group of activists and community leaders to address the challenge of "Youth Radicalization" as well as its myths and realities on January 31, 2010. On July 24, 2010, CAIR San Diego along with Islamic Center of San Diego, MAS San Diego, Masjidul Taqwa (Imam Warithudeen Community), and Logan Islamic Community Center co-organized a day-long conference for Muslim youth in San Diego County called "Muslim Youth in America: Seeking the Straight Path." The purpose of this conference was to address radicalism and provide Muslim youth with a constructive environment in which to discuss issues of spirituality, education, social activism, and social problems. The conference provided a forum that will help them pursue a path that will positively impact the broader society. Over 100 students participated in this conference.
The Los Angeles group analyzed who is promoting this concept of "youth radicalization," to determine what the issue is, compare myth vs. reality, provide a platform for stakeholders to jointly identify the problem and devise a multilateral and comprehensive approach to addressing the issue on a short-term and long-term basis.
2010: Meetings with Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security
In December, 2010, CAIR-Tampa met with representatives of the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security. CAIR-Michigan met 13 times with Federal law enforcement in 2010, including the FBI, TSA, ICE and CBP.
CAIR-Philadelphia Executive Director Moein Khawaja was a main speaker at a town hall meeting with the FBI held by the Council of Islamic Organizations in Philadelphia, an umbrella group that of which CAIR-Philadelphia is a member. Similarly, CAIR-Chicago Civil Rights Director Christina Abraham moderated an event featuring a speech by Robert D. Grant, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Chicago Field Office, at the American Islamic College in July.
In November, 2010, pre-Hajj season, CAIR-Philadelphia had a meeting with the customs and borders protection officers and Homeland Security officers who oversee international arrivals in Philadelphia. DHS gave tips to CAIR on how to make hajj travelers better prepared on what they can bring and what they can't bring on travel. In turn, CAIR gave DHS security tips, such as hajj travelers should know which hajj group they are travelling with. If the traveler does not know, they may be a candidate for additional screening.
CAIR-Minnesota, met with Customs and Borders protection agents quarterly to bring up any cases or issues that come up at the airports. Once or twice a year DHS holds meeting with several Muslim organizations in Minnesota and CAIR participates in this meeting.
2010: Law Enforcement Coordination and Advisory Groups
In 2010, CAIR-Sacramento, met with the Lodi Police Department, conducted a diversity training for the Lodi Police Department, participated in the U.S. Attorney's Hate Crimes Task Force, participated in the Sacramento Police Multicultural Advisory Meeting, met with Office of Public Safety Accountability Director Francine Tournour, and met with District Attorney Jan Scully and Muslim community leaders.
CAIR-Sacramento is affiliated with the District Attorney's Multicultural Advisory Board, the American Immigration Lawyers Association-Law Enforcement Co-liaison-Sacramento/Chico sub region, the U.S. Attorney Hate Crimes Task Force, and the City of Sacramento Police Multicultural Committee.
CAIR-San Antonio conducted three diversity trainings at the Police Academy in San Antonio in 2009. The chapter also conducted one diversity training in Austin, Texas at the Austin Police Department. The chapter conducted two other trainings for the State Police Academy in Austin that year.
CAIR-New York attends monthly meetings with a group of the city's Muslim leaders and representatives of the NYPD. The purpose of the initiative is to build trust, voice concerns and improve law enforcement. The chapter has regular communication with the NYPD's community liaisons and hate crimes unit. As part of the Muslim American Civil Liberties Coalition, CAIR-NY has regular contact with higher levels of the NYPD regarding their counter-terrorism training policies. The collaboration has resulted in revisions and additions to the NYPD's report on radicalization. CAIR-NY sent a representative to a meeting with Customs and Border Patrol from JFK airport to discuss policy and some specific cases of possible discrimination.
CAIR-Philadelphia attends a monthly meeting with a state-wide agency in Pennsylvania, overseen by the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC). PHRC is a state-wide law enforcement agency that enforces equal opportunity laws and also monitors civil tensions. Every month they have a task force meeting called the Interagency Task Force on Civil Tension, which is made up of civil rights non-profits, law enforcement, Penn state agencies, and individuals who have positions in the community.
While CAIR's record of performing it civic and religious duty to help keep our nation safe and crime-free is strong, no one asserts that the organization's relationship with law enforcement is without points of friction. Many groups, both Muslim and those of other faiths, have expressed concern over certain law enforcement actions taken post-9/11. The below discussion offers some examples to offer members of Congress insight into why there are some disputes between our community and law enforcement.
2011: FBI Sued for Warrantless GPS Surveillance of Calif. Muslim
On March 2, 2011, CAIR filed a civil rights lawsuit against the FBI on behalf of a California Muslim who found a secret GPS tracking device that was placed on his car without first obtaining a warrant.
Yasir Afifi, a Santa Clara, Calif., student discovered the device when he took his car in for an oil change. A friend of Afifi's posted pictures of the device online, asking if anyone knew what it was. FBI agents later demanded that the device be returned to the bureau.
The lawsuit states that the FBI violated Afifi's First, Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights when the bureau failed to obtain a warrant to place the GPS tracking device on his car to monitor his daily activities.
Afifi seeks an order preventing another tracking device being attached to his vehicle without a search warrant. The requested order would also bar the FBI from using tracking devices without first obtaining a search warrant.
2011: Suit filed over broad surveillance of Muslims based solely on religion
On February 23, 2011, the Council on American-Islamic Relations of the Greater Los Angeles Area (CAIR-LA), the ACLU of Southern California (ACLU/SC), and the law firm Hadsell Stormer Keeny Richardson & Renick LLP announced the filing of a federal class action lawsuit against the FBI for infiltrating mainstream mosques in Southern California and targeting Muslim Americans for surveillance solely because of their religion.
For over 14 months between 2006 and 2007, FBI agents planted an informant in Orange County mosques who posed as a convert to Islam and through whom the FBI collected names, telephone numbers, e-mails, and other information on hundreds of California Muslims. Sheikh Yassir Fazaga, Ali Malik, and Yassir AbdelRahim - plaintiffs in the case-are three of the many individuals who came in contact with the bureau's informant.
According to the lawsuit, the FBI directed the informant, a convicted felon named Craig Monteilh, to gather as much information as possible on members of the Muslim community, and to focus on people who were more devout in their religious practice, irrespective of whether any particular individual was believed to be involved in criminal activity.
Monteilh's role as an FBI informant was not revealed until February 2009, first in court documents, in which the FBI and local law enforcement revealed his role, and then through his own statements which have been reported widely in the press.
The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief on behalf of all people targeted by the FBI agents and their informant, requiring the FBI to turn over or destroy all information collected through the discriminatory investigation, as well as damages for emotional distress for the three named plaintiffs
2010: Informing community of rights regarding TSA "enhanced pat-down" procedure
Following the policy's implementation, CAIR offices received complaints, particularly from female travelers who wear hijab (headscarf), about being subjected to the new pat-down procedure. Two of the nation's largest pilots' unions urged commercial pilots to avoid both full-body scanners and public pat-downs. A union for flight attendants expressed similar concerns.
In light of the growing concerns about the invasiveness of the new standard pat-down procedure and increased air travel during the Thanksgiving holiday, CAIR offered recommendations to travelers such as:
- You will be asked to go through a metal detector or AIT machine in the primary screening process. TSA officers have threatened to arrest and/or fine passengers who opt out of the entire screening process after it begins.
- You may opt out of the AIT screening, but you will be given the new standard pat-down, described above, instead. You have the right to request that the standard pat-down be conducted in private and you may have someone accompany you. It is your right to be screened by an officer of the same gender.
Ongoing: Concerns over FBI and other agencies pursuing lines of questioning related to First Amendment protected activities
CAIR frequently receives reports from individual Muslims who have been approached by FBI or JTTF officers for a voluntary interview or questioning during border stops.
Some of the more troubling reported questions include:
- What mosque do you go to?
- Who is the imam (prayer leader)?
- What do you think about him?
- How many times a day do you pray?
- What's your opinion on the war in Iraq?
- Who prays fajr (the pre-dawn pray) at the mosque?
While answering such questions is voluntary, it is difficult for outside observers to accurately assess the sense of discomfort and the desire to prove that "I have nothing to hide" to law enforcement agents that an interviewee may feel.
CAIR has collected multiple instances of consequences that can result from such innocent participation in these interviews -- problems with travel, immigration hold ups, and sometimes even damage to their reputation because the FBI will show up at their mosque or job asking about them. For this reason, the organization advises our constituents to cooperate with law enforcement, but also to have an attorney present when appropriate.
Ongoing: Concern over use of Muslim-bashers as law enforcement trainers
In December, 2010, CAIR called on Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to review Justice Department policies on the reported use of anti-Muslim extremists to train counterterrorism officials nationwide.
CAIR said an investigative report on post-9/11 government surveillance published in the Washington Post states: "Seeking to learn more about Islam and terrorism, some law enforcement agencies have hired as trainers self-described experts whose extremist views on Islam and terrorism are considered inaccurate and counterproductive by the FBI and U.S. intelligence agencies."
The Post's report cites cases of individuals who lack formal training "teaching classes on terrorism and Islam to law enforcement officers all over the country." One such trainer tells all his students that Muslims in the United States "want to impose sharia law here."
Another trainer, a former Muslim who converted to Christianity, told the Post he warns officers that "you need to look at the entire pool of Muslims in a community." He recommends that law enforcement authorities "monitor Muslim student groups and local mosques and, if possible, tap their phones."
In July, 2010, CAIR called on the FBI and Virginia's Tidewater Joint Terrorism Task Force to explain why a leader of an anti-Islam hate group was invited to offer training to state and federal law enforcement officers. Robert Spencer, co-founder of the hate group Stop the Islamization of America (SIOA), claimed in a blog post that he "gave two two-hour seminars on the belief-system of Islamic jihadists to the Tidewater Joint Terrorism Task Force."
Spencer has referred to Islam's Prophet Muhammad as a " ... con man. Someone who is knowing [sic] that what he is saying is false, but is fooling his followers." In the same video he asserts, "From a historical stand point, it is not even clear that Muhammad existed." In that video he asserts he is writing a book currently entitled Did Muhammad Exist. It seems realistic to ask how a trainer who questions the existence of Islam's founder can be expected to present a reasonably-balanced view of the faith.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office refused to grant SIOA a trademark because: "The applied-for mark refers to Muslims in a disparaging manner because by definition it implies that conversion or conformity to Islam is something that needs to be stopped or caused to cease."
SOIA has come to prominence through shrill opposition to the building of American mosques, anti-Islam bus and taxi advertising campaigns, support for European far-right groups and Islamophobes such as the English Defence League and Geert Wilders, and bigoted anti-Islam statements by its co-leader, Pamela Geller.
These are not the only incidents in which national security personnel received anti-Islam training. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) acknowledged in 2010 that an anti-Islam film should not have been used in training offered to security personnel by that military law enforcement agency.
Also in 2010, CAIR's Washington state chapter announced a webinar on security technology for law enforcement personnel co-sponsored by Security Solutions International (SSI) was canceled after two of the presenters withdrew from the event due to community concerns about SSI's anti-Islam bias.
Ongoing: American Muslims abroad face denial of due process, pressure to become informants
In July, 2010, CAIR issued an advisory to American Muslims--whether citizens, permanent residents or visa holders--warning of the risk of "forced exile" when traveling overseas or attempting to return to the United States. Muslim travelers were urged to know their legal rights.
CAIR has received a number of reports of American Muslims stranded overseas when they are placed on the government's no-fly list. Those barred from returning to the United States report being denied proper legal representation, being subjected to pressure tactics to give up the constitutionally-guaranteed right to remain silent, having their passports confiscated without due process, and being pressured to become informants for the FBI. These individuals are generally not told why they were placed on the no-fly list or how to remove their names from the list. Obviously, they were not on the list prior to their travel overseas.
FBI agents have reportedly told a number of individuals that they face being stranded outside the United States longer, or forever, unless they give up their rights to legal representation or to refuse interrogations and polygraph tests.
But even those who submitted to interrogations without an attorney or to the "lie detector" tests often remain stranded.
In one case, Gulet Mohamed alleged that he was tortured while in detention in Kuwait and faced unconstitutional coercion to answer questions by FBI agents who ignored his repeated requests for legal representation. Mohamed was allowed to return to the United States only after CAIR filed a legal complaint on his behalf.
2011: Policy Violation, "Don't talk to the FBI Poster"
A poster placed on a CAIR-chapter's website is alleged to be "evidence" of nefarious intent on CAIR's part. Like any organization, we are subject to occasional violations of our policies.
The following statement was issued over CAIR's national e-distribution list on January 14, 2011, shortly after the poster was brought to the attention of national staff:
CLARIFICATION: A 30-year old image that is inconsistent with CAIR's policy of constitutionally-informed cooperation with law enforcement agencies was placed on the local events page of a CAIR chapter web site. Once it was brought to our attention it was removed. The image was not designed by CAIR and the event it promotes was not organized by CAIR.
Additionally, CAIR Legislative Director Corey Saylor appeared on Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor" to reaffirm CAIR's policy.
2010: Unindicted Co-Conspirator (UCC) Designation: Court Says Government Violated Muslim Groups' Rights
In May 2007, the Department of Justice publicly named 306 individuals and organizations as "unindicted co-conspirators" (UCC) in conjunction with the Holy Land Foundation case. The UCC list includes three of the largest American Muslim organizations -- The Islamic Society of North America (the largest Muslim organization in America), The North American Islamic Trust (the largest Muslim endowment/trust in America) and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (the largest Muslim civil liberties group in America).
In November, 2010, a federal appeals court ruled that federal prosecutors violated the rights of major American Muslim organizations by including them on a list of "unindicted co-conspirators" in a terror-related case.
"According to one senior law-enforcement official (who asked not to be named talking about an ongoing case), the listing of ISNA, CAIR and other groups as 'unindicted co-conspirators' was largely a tactical move by the government." (Newsweek, 8/08/2007)
CAIR said the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit found that the U.S. Department of Justice violated the Fifth Amendment rights of the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT), and by implication the rights of similarly-named Muslim organizations, when it included them on the publicly-filed list in 2007.
The court also ruled that inclusion on the list was the result of "simply an untested allegation of the Government, made in anticipation of a possible evidentiary dispute that never came to pass." According to the ruling, "The allegation did not improperly enjoy the imprimatur of grand jury approval, nor was it erroneously conceded, implicitly or explicitly, as part of any plea."
In addressing the guilt by association argument raised by the government, the court said: "[A] broadly worded conclusion regarding a party's 'association' with various other entities is not grounded in any legal rule that would give that conclusion substance and boundaries. As such, the district court's statements regarding NAIT's 'association' ... went beyond what was relevant to the any hypothetical evidentiary issue and may have obfuscated the underlying Fifth Amendment issue."
In re Smith, 656 F.2d 1101, 1107 (5th Cir. 1981) indicates that sullying a person's name as an unindicted co-conspirator is a Fifth Amendment violation because it does not allow the unindicted co-conspirator a "forum for vindication."
Finally, the public naming of third parties that have not been officially charged with a crime is clearly against the Department of Justice's guidelines in the United States Attorney's Manual. (U.S.A.M)
- U.S.A.M. 9-11.130 specifically deals with limitations on naming persons or entities as unindicted co-conspirators.
- The guideline states that "[t]he practice of naming individuals as unindicted co-conspirators in an indictment charging a criminal conspiracy has been severely criticized in United States v. Briggs, 514 F.2d 794 (5th Cir. 1975)." U.S.A.M. 9-11.130.
- Furthermore, the guideline states that: "[o]rdinarily, there is no need to name a person as an unindicted co-conspirator in an indictment in order to fulfill any legitimate prosecutorial interest or duty. For purposes of indictment itself, it is sufficient, for example, to allege that the defendant conspired with 'another person or persons known.' The identity of the person can be supplied, upon request, in a bill of particulars. With respect to the trial, the person's identity and status as a co-conspirator can be established, for evidentiary purposes, through the introduction of proof sufficient to invoke the co-conspirator hearsay exception without subjecting the person to the burden of a formal accusation by a grand jury." U.S.A.M. 9-11.130.
- Finally, the guideline avers that "[i]n the absence of some significant justification, federal prosecutors generally should not identify unindicted co-conspirators in conspiracy indictments." U.S.A.M. 9-11.130.
Sadly, it is commonplace for minority groups and their leaders to be painted as a threat and be vilified, even by the government. Even Martin Luther King--a non-violent, shining example of the civil rights movement who now has a federal holiday named after him and who won a Nobel Peace Prize--was branded "the most dangerous and effective Negro leader in the country" in an FBI memo. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover labeled King a "degenerate."
2009: False accusations that CAIR told Somalis not to talk to the FBI
On Saturday, June 13, 2009, representatives of more than a dozen Twin Cities Somali civil, religious and political organizations held a rally demonstrating their support for Minnesota's only Muslim civil rights organization, the Minnesota Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN).
An article that appeared in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune described the scene this way:
Last week, relatives of a Minneapolis teenager who said he was recently killed in Somalia and a Somali community leader claimed that the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Minnesota chapter was discouraging area Somalis from cooperating with the FBI. But supporters Saturday said CAIR has only advised Somalis about their civil rights and urged them to tell the truth and work with law enforcement.
"I was at CAIR's three workshops for people who were issued subpoenas by the FBI and others seeking help and this was consistently the group's message," said Omar Hurre, executive director of Abubakar as-Saddique Islamic Center, Minneapolis' largest Somali mosque.
Representatives from local Somali organizations voiced their support of the work CAIR-MN has done in the Somali community and addressed the importance of civil rights education for all Americans. The coalition gathered to represent the collective voice of the Twin Cities Somali population, estimated to be between 70,000 and 80,000.
"CAIR has been the only organization to come into the Muslim community, the Somali community, to help them understand their civil rights," said Somali Community Link Radio Host Zuhur Ahmed. "They've been here educating us about our rights as Americans since long before any men left for Somalia." Ahmed added that, in addition to know your rights trainings, CAIR-MN has been promoting cooperation with law enforcement.
The demonstrating in support of CAIR also stressed that Somalis are not represented by one or two media-seeking individuals who refer to themselves as activists.
"We're here from dozens of active organizations working with the people on the issues important to Somalis," said United Somali Movement Vice President Aman Obsiye. "We represent the true voice of the tens of thousands of Somalis living in the Twin Cities."
Organizations co-sponsoring the event included: United Somali Movement; Somali Youth Network Council (SYNC); Somali Youth Action of Minnesota; Somali Action Alliance; United Somali Diaspora; Somali Leadership Council; Somali American Community; World Peace Organization; Muslim Student Association, Augsburg College Chapter; Abubakar As-Saddique Islamic Center (AAIC); Islamic Dawah Institute; Karmel Plaza Business Association.
Even an article reporting on community members who were critical of CAIR, refutes any allegation that CAIR violated its own policy of Constitutionally-informed cooperation with law enforcement:
During a months-long investigation into the disappearance of up to 20 Somali men, CAIR Minnesota launched a campaign to encourage anyone asked to speak to the FBI to be aware that they can have a lawyer present.
Jessica Zikri, communications director for CAIR Minnesota, said that effort is not meant to discourage anyone from speaking to investigators. Rather, the campaign is meant to ensure that people's civil rights are protected, she said. She said the group is willing to meet with families of the missing men.
More recently, "FBI Special Agent Ralph Boelter, who investigated the Somalis who fled Minnesota to join the al-Shabab terror group, said Muslim-Americans couldn't have been more helpful."
Refuse to Offer a Legitimizing Platform to Those Who Spout Anti-Muslim Bigotry
Free speech is essential in an open society. People of conscience must be willing to defend speech that repulses their humanity. However, we at CAIR believe that bigoted speech should be relegated to where it belongs- the fringes of society and out of serious policy discussion.
Thus when Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) invited David Yerushalmi, the president and founder of the Society of Americans for National Existence (SANE) to speak in a U.S. House office building, he legitimized a group that advocated imposing prison terms for "adherence to Islam" and questioned whether women and African-Americans should be allowed to vote. The New York Jewish Week newspaper reported that Yerushalmi "condemns democracy in the United States and, in comments that evoke classical anti-Semitic stereotypes, says he finds truth in the view that Jews 'destroy their host nations like a fatal parasite.'"
Equally, when Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) hosted Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who in 2007 wrote, "I have had enough of the Koran in the Netherlands. Ban that wretched book" at a closed-door screening of Wilders 17 minute anti-Islam film Fitna in a tax-payer funded Senate office building, the Senator presents cover for Wilders' intolerance.
Consider funding Muslim community organization's programs that protect youth from violent extremist influences
Muslim organizations that have connections to and the trust of the Muslim community are best placed to ensure that people of vile intent covet are denied the space to seduce individuals into opting for violent extremism. Whether it be al-Qaeda's Inspire or internet videos, it is particularly important to create material to counter the propaganda placed online by violent extremists.
CAIR recommends that Congress enact legislation that would provide funds to reputable Muslim community organizations and scholars to produce such materials and programs.
Lawmakers should investigate legitimate concerns about law enforcement tactics and avoid granting law enforcement broad powers without appropriate checks and balances. For instance, a DoJ IG report released in January 2010 found "widespread use of exigent letters and other informal requests for telephone records that did not comply with legal requirements of FBI policies governing acquisition of these records."
The same report finds that, "FBI personnel routinely uploaded telephone toll billing records obtained in response to exigent letters into a [redacted] database where the records were available for review and analysis by [redacted] employees throughout the government who were authorized to access the database.
CAIR's work is an example of the work that all mainstream American Muslim organizations do to demonstrate to all Muslims that the democratic system of governance in the United States of America affords all people the opportunity to successfully redress their grievances in a non-violent, lawful manner. Though the organization is not theological in nature, CAIR is faith-based and its message to its own community has always centered on the "middle way."
In an open letter written to President Obama and Muslims worldwide in May 2009, CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad wrote:
"Muslims worldwide must offer themselves as personal examples of the Islamic values of compassion, tolerance and moderation. Each individual and family should exemplify the verse in the Quran, Islam's revealed text, which states: 'And thus have We willed you to be a community of the middle way, so that [with your lives] you might bear witness to the truth before all humankind.' (Quran, 2:143)"
CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper wrote the following in 2006 to highlight how violent responses to the publication of cartoons defaming the Prophet Muhammad reflected neither Islamic teachings nor the prophet's own behavior:
As Muslims, we need to take a step back and ask ourselves, "What would the Prophet Muhammad do?"
Muslims are taught the tradition of the woman who would regularly throw trash on the prophet as he walked down a particular path. The prophet never responded in kind to the woman's abuse. Instead, when she one day failed to attack him, he went to her home to inquire about her condition.
In another tradition, the prophet was offered the opportunity to have God punish the people of a town near Mecca who refused the message of Islam and attacked him with stones. Again, the prophet did not choose to respond in kind to the abuse.
A companion of the prophet noted his forgiving disposition. He said: "I served the prophet for ten years, and he never said 'uf' (a word indicating impatience) to me and never blamed me by saying, 'Why did you do so or why didn't you do so?'" (Sahih Al-Bukhari)
Even when the prophet was in a position of power, he chose the path of kindness and reconciliation.
When he returned to Mecca after years of exile and personal attacks, he did not take revenge on the people of the city, but instead offered a general amnesty ...
The Quran ... says: "Invite (all) to the way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching, and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for thy Lord knows best who have strayed from His Path and who receive guidance." (16:125)
An earlier example of CAIR reminding the public and Muslims of Islam's middle way of honoring treaties and preferring peaceful solutions to situations can be seen in this excerpt from a 1996 press release relating to an article that mischaracterized Muhammad's adherence to the Treaty of Hudaybiah:
Islamic scholars provide the following outline for events surrounding that treaty:
- The Prophet and his companions were prevented by the pagan Arabs from performing their pilgrimage to Mecca (Umrah). Instead of fighting, and despite the willingness of his followers to enforce their religious rights, the Prophet chose a peaceful settlement.
- Two years later, the pagan Arabs broke the treaty by attacking and killing 20 allies of the Muslims as they slept.
- Even after this attack, no bloody revenge was taken against those who broke the treaty. In fact, when the Muslims finally entered Mecca, amnesty was granted to nearly all former enemies.
The Quran, Islam's revealed text, states: "Yes, whoever fulfills his pledge and fears God much; verily, then God loves those who are the pious." (3:76)
Also: "And fulfill (every) covenant." (17:34)
In 2002, Hooper discussed Islamically-sanctioned positions on defensive struggles, friendship with people of other faiths, and religious tolerance: "The Quran permits defensive struggles but calls for peace when aggression ends. God teaches us, 'Let there be no compulsion in religion,'" said Hooper. (Chapter 2, Verse 256)
Hooper cited several other verses of the Quran, Islam's revealed text, which call for peace once oppression ends: 1. "God does not forbid you to be kind and equitable to those who had neither fought against your faith nor driven you out of your homes. In fact God loves the equitable." (Chapter 60, Verse 8) 2. "Fight in the cause of God with those who fight against you, but do not exceed the limits ... If they desist, let there be no hostility except against the oppressors." (Chapter 2, Verses 190-193)
On the issue of a Muslim's friendship with people of other faiths, Hooper cited other verses supporting cordial relations with anyone who does not attack their faith:
- "O ye who believe! Take not for friends and protectors those who take your religion for a mockery or sport ... " (Chapter 5, Verse 57)
- "God only forbids you to make friendship with those who fought you on account of your faith and drove you out of your homes and backed up others in your expulsion." (Chapter 60, Verse 9)
- "And dispute ye not with the People of the Book [Christians and Jews] except with means better (than mere disputation) unless it be with those of them who inflict wrong (and injury): but say, 'We believe in the Revelation which has come down to us and in that which came down to you.'" (Chapter 29, Verse 46)
As a call to religious tolerance, Hooper quoted the Quran's Chapter 2, Verse 62, which states: Those who believe (in the Quran) and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures) and the Christians and the Sabians and who believe in God and the last day and work righteousness shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear nor shall they grieve."
CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad cited the same verse when he rebuked individuals who had burned down churches in Nigeria.
Relating to the targeting of civilians, CAIR issued a statement in 2004 saying:
"The targeting of civilians has always been prohibited in Islam. Those who kidnap and murder civilians are violating Islamic norms and deserve to be repudiated by Muslims in America, in Iraq and throughout the Islamic world. As it states in the Quran, Islam's revealed text: 'If anyone slays a human being ... it shall be as though he had slain all mankind, and if anyone saves a life, it shall be as though he had saved the lives of all mankind.' (5:32)"
In a statement discussing nuclear tests conducted by Pakistan, Awad added that "Islam forbids harming civilians even in times of war and that Muslim countries should consider nuclear weapons a deterrent to aggression that should be eliminated through negotiations and international treaties."
Responding to an article in the Washington Post that was critical of Islam, CAIR offered the following quotations: "Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from error," (Quran 2:256) and, "The believers, men and women, are protectors, one of another ... " (Quran 9:71)
Discussing reports that Muslim men in Kosovo were blaming their wives for being raped by Serbian soldiers, Nihad Awad argued the following:
"Rape is a traumatic experience. It's devastating for not only the woman but the family, loved ones ... In Islam ... Muslims should never blame the victim. The blame should only squarely be placed on the perpetrators of the crime ...
" ... When it happens [blaming a female for being raped by a member of an occupying army], it happens because of local customs. It happens because of their own ethnic ... traditions, but, again, there is no basis in the Islamic faith. Islam -- it places the crime on the perpetrator ... we are not focusing on the real issue here. The real issue is the perpetrator, the sick and sickening mentality that the Serbs have in the government, in the police stations, having rape camps prepared for women, women staked to the floor and being raped ... "
Writing in the wake of the brutal beheading of Nicholas Berg in Iraq, then board member Parvez Ahmed and then director of legal affairs Arsalan Iftikhar wrote the following:
Muslims are also bound by a hallmark ethical and moral code. A Muslim who violates the commandments of God in the Koran or those of the prophet Muhammad must also be held accountable.
When outlining the rules of engagement for wartime, the Prophet Muhammad said on numerous occasions: "Do not kill any old person, any child or any woman;" "Do not kill the monks in monasteries;" "Do not kill the people who are sitting in places of worship;" "Do not attack a wounded person;" and "No prisoner should be put to the sword." Prophet Muhammad also prohibited the killing of anyone who is in captivity and also ordered people not to pillage residential areas or cultivated fields during war. He also outlawed the mutilating of the corpses of enemies. These clear and concise statements make any violation of these edicts during wartime a clear violation of core Islamic principles.
Islamic scholars also assert that war in Islam is purely defensive in nature (Koran 22: 39-40). Also, the Koran prohibits of killing noncombatants, (2:190-192), and it advocates kindness to people of other faiths who do not have open hostilities with Muslims (60:8).
Despite such clear injunctions, some Muslims who claim to be killing in the name of Islam are, in fact, completely defiling its essence. The extremists and militants who attempt to hide behind the veneer of Islam are in reality openly violating many of its core teachings. Just as their ends do not justify their criminal means, the same can be said of the criminal Americans soldiers and their commanders who consign human beings to leashed animals.
Just as the cruel torture of Iraqis has been universally condemned by people of all faiths, the overwhelming majority of Muslims worldwide is sickened and condemns the horrific death of Berg as inherently shocking, against all teachings of Islam and universally deplored by all spiritual, caring and decent human beings. Unspeakable and appalling acts perpetrated by followers of any religion should be unanimously condemned as fundamentally irreligious and unpatriotic crimes.
Condemning the mutilation of bodies in Iraq, CAIR noted, "cited a tradition of the Prophet Muhammad that prohibits mutilating bodies (Hadith 654.3). In another tradition, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, 'Do not kill women or children, or an aged, infirm person. Do not cut down fruit-bearing trees. Do not destroy an inhabited place.'" (Al-Muwatta, Vol. 21, Hadith 9)
CAIR's 2004 "Not in the Name of Islam" petition stated:
"We, the undersigned, wish to state clearly that those who commit acts of terror and murder in the name of Islam are not only destroying innocent lives, but are also devastating the image of the faith they claim to represent. No injustice done to Muslims can ever justify the massacre of innocent men, women and children, and no act of terror will ever serve the cause of Islam. We repudiate and disassociate ourselves from any Muslim group or individual who commits such brutal and un-Islamic acts. Islam must not be held hostage by the criminal actions of a few Muslims."
While calling on Muslims to sign the petition, CAIR reminded them:
"As it states in the Quran: 'Oh you who believe, stand up firmly for justice, as witnesses to God, even if it be against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be against rich or poor; for God can best protect both. Do not follow any passion, lest you not be just. And if you distort or decline to do justice, verily God is well-acquainted with all that you do.'" (Quran 4:135)
Individuals and organizations representing more than 700,000 Muslims worldwide signed the petition.
While condemning a "tasteless and insensitive" television commercial promoting professional wrestling that showed "Jesus" gambling with the devil in a sports bar, CAIR issued a statement that said in part:
Awad quoted the Quran, Islam's revealed text, which states:
"Behold! The angels said 'O Mary! God giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from Him: his name will be Christ Jesus the son of Mary, held in honor in this world and the Hereafter and of (the company of) those nearest to God.'" (Chapter 3, Verse 45)
In another verse, the Quran states: "Say ye: 'We believe in God and the revelation given to us and to Abraham, Ismail, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to (all) Prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and it is unto Him that we surrender ourselves.'" (Chapter 2, Verse 136)
He also quoted the Prophet Muhammad who said: "Both in this world and in the Hereafter, I am the nearest of all people to Jesus, the son of Mary. The prophets are paternal brothers; their mothers are different, but their religion is one." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Hadith 652)
In 2005, CAIR distributed a 28-page publication called "Women Friendly Mosques and Community Centers: Working Together to Reclaim Our Heritage." The brochure was designed to educate Muslim community leaders about the right of Muslim women to equal access to and participation in community activities. It was published in a collaborative effort with the Islamic Social Services Associations (ISSA) and Women in Islam (WII).
CAIR's release supporting this effort said, in part:
"Using references in the Quran, Islam's revealed text, and the traditions (hadith) of the Prophet Muhammad, the publication's authors call for improvements in women's access to mosque facilities, greater participation of women in mosque program planning and development of a mosque governance structure that allows women and youth to have input in decision-making. The Prophet Muhammad is also quoted as saying in his final sermon: 'The rights of women are sacred, so see that they are maintained.'"
Specific recommendations in the "Women Friendly Mosques" guide include:
- Make available designated space for women in the main prayer hall of mosques.
- Invite women to organize community programs, introduce speakers, offer dua (supplications) during educational programs, moderate panels, and direct question and answer sessions.
- Ensure that women are represented on governing boards of mosques and community centers.
(Updated April 24, 2008; for some of CAIR's 2010 activities with law enforcement see the section on Ongoing: Law Enforcement Coordination and Advisory Groups)
In a 2004 press statement, Dr. Asma Mobin-Uddin of CAIR-Ohio said: "We would like to help law enforcement officials and Muslims have an appreciation for each other's needs and concerns. This way, we can improve understanding and cooperation between the groups."
This statement concisely sums up CAIR's relationship with law enforcement. CAIR pursues this objective through two primary avenues:
- Educating officers about the Muslim community. CAIR training courses examine basic Islamic beliefs and concepts, common stereotypes of Islam and Muslims, and ways in which to improve interactions with the Muslim community. Participants are encouraged to ask questions throughout the presentations.
- Opening the Muslim community to meetings and discussions with members of law enforcement. Many of these meetings center on exploring efforts and ways of improving cooperation between law enforcement and the Islamic community.
All date references in this section cite the date of issue of CAIR statements, unless otherwise indicated. This document is intended to be illustrative, not exhaustive.
- CAIR Participates in Press Events with Law Enforcement, a short list of examples includes the following:
- Taking part in an FBI press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., dealing with the alleged plot to bomb airliners flying between the United Kingdom and America. (8/11/2006)
- Holding a joint press conference (2/13/2004) in Florida with the FBI and several other law enforcement agencies seeking information on a person wanted for questioning.
- Joining with the FBI, Prince George's County police and fire departments, the MD State Attorneys Office, and the local Muslim community announcing "major developments" in the case of a cross-burning at an Islamic school and mosque in Maryland. (8/01/2003).
- CAIR's American Muslim Civic Pocket Guide, distributed at mosques and CAIR events nationwide, notes: "IF FEDERAL LAW ENFORCEMENT CONTACTS YOU ... American Muslims strongly support law enforcement and the protection of our national security. As Americans, we also value civil rights. All Americans have the constitutional right of due process and the right to be politically active. If you know of any criminal activity taking place in your community, it is both your religious and civic duty to immediately report such activity to local and federal law enforcement agencies." (emphasis added)
- CAIR's Law Enforcement Official's Guide to the Muslim Community is a 2003 publication "designed to assist law enforcement and other security personnel and administrators in formulating and implementing policies that will help create a culturally-sensitive environment and a cooperative relationship between American Muslims and law enforcement agencies."
- CAIR's "Community Safety Kit" for American Muslims begins by urging American Muslims to "do their part to ensure the safety and security of our nation." It goes on to say: "If anyone notes suspicious persons or activities in their community, they should report it immediately to the local Field Office of the FBI."
- CAIR has Applauded Law Enforcement Efforts
- CAIR thanked (8/05/2005) the Department of Justice, the FBI and the Washington Metropolitan Police Department for "swift and professional" actions that led to the arrest of an Illinois man who allegedly threatened to bomb the group's Capitol Hill headquarters.
- CAIR applauded (5/8/2007) efforts by federal law enforcement authorities that apparently thwarted a planned attack on Fort Dix in New Jersey.
- CAIR welcomed (3/16/2007) a decision by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to sue New York's Department of Correctional Services in support of a prison guard who wears a Muslim "kufi," or skullcap. The DOJ lawsuit alleged that the Department of Correctional Services rule barring officers from wearing visible symbols of their faith violates a federal law requiring employers to accommodate the reasonable religious practices of workers.
- A CAIR spokesperson discussed (10/18/2006) FBI/Muslim relations on CNN's 'Paula Zahn Now" then National Legal Director Arsalan Iftikhar noted, "I think, to their credit, the FBI has worked to help build these bridges between the American Muslim community, but as your piece said, we still have a long way to go."
- A 2004 Summary of CAIR Engagement with Law Enforcement (2/13/2004) included: forming a Muslim Advisory Committee for the Phoenix Police Department; regular meetings with an official from the FBI-Baltimore Unit; regular meetings with officials from the Prince George's County, MD State Attorney's Office; working with FBI Los Angeles Regional Office to create an advisory committee comprised of Muslim and Arab-Americans; having a working relationship with FBI in southern California, including relationships with all senior FBI members in the Los Angeles, Orange County and Riverside regional offices; being a member of the Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca's advisory committee; being a member of Sheriff Baca's clergy council; being a member of Orange County Sheriff Michael Carona's Community Coalition; forming a dialogue group with US Attorney's Office/FBI/INS in SE Michigan; being a member of Advocates and Leaders for Police and Community Trust (ALPACT), a Michigan coalition of organizations and law enforcements coordinated and facilitated by NCCJ; being a member of Building Respect in Diverse Groups to Enhance Sensitivity (BRIDGES), which brings local, state and federal law enforcement officials and leaders in the Muslim and Arab American communities together for monthly meetings to discuss mutual concerns.
The Extensive Record of CAIR Officials Augmenting Community Policing Efforts by Educating Officers About the Local Muslim Community
|Date||CAIR trained||Date||CAIR trained|
|1/12/2001||Police officers at New York City's 115th Precinct||7/03/2005||Gwinnett County, GA law enforcement officials|
|6/03/2003||More than 20 representatives of the FBI's St. Louis Field Office at the FBI's local headquarters||7/07/2005||Graduates at the Sacramento, CA Police Training Academy|
|4/22/2004||More than 60 central Ohio law enforcement officials||8/19/2005||Officers at the Texas Police Association headquarters in Austin, Texas|
|4/27/2004||Officers attending the Detroit Police Department's annual Homeland Security Reserve/Auxiliary Conference in Southfield, MI||9/16/2005||Cleveland, OH police officers|
|5/28/2004||Elk Grove, CA police supervisors||12/22/2005||Police officers and employees of the Anaheim Police Department|
|6/28/2004||Graduating cadets at the Sacramento, CA Police Training Academy||4/02/2006||"(S)eminars for law enforcement agents" in Florida|
|10/26/2004||FBI agents in Lexington, KY||5/05/2006||Members of the FBI and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement|
|12/1/2004||Attendees at FBI's Jacksonville, FL Division all employee conference||6/01/2006||Employees at the office of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), part of DHS, in Fairfax, VA|
|1/09/2005||Graduates at the California Highway Patrol Academy in West Sacramento, CA||8/23/2006||Law enforcement officers attending the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Conference in Savannah, GA|
|4/01/2005||Members of the Cleveland, OH police department||10/02/2006||The Texas Municipal Police Association in Austin, TX|
|6/10/2005||Attendees at cultural training seminar for Houston, TX law enforcement officials||5/07/2007||
Officials at the New Haven office of the FBI
|7/03/2005||Police officers of the Chicago Ridge Police Department|
CAIR'S Record of Engaging Law Enforcement Officials
|3/26/1996||Arranged a meeting between representatives of the local and national Muslim community and the Colorado Attorney General, the local U.S. Attorney and representatives from the Adams County District Attorney's office.|
|10/07/1998||Participated in a meeting with Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder, Assistant Attorney General Bill Lannlee, hate crimes specialists, and a number of FBI field agents.|
|9/28/2001||Issued an action alert to American Muslims urging the community to " ... hold open houses for people of other faiths in their local communities to help promote a better understanding of Islam and Muslims." CAIR suggested inviting "law enforcement officials."|
|12/20/2001||Met in with Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) Assistant Commissioner Bob Cummings and representatives from the Florida Commission on Human Relations in Tallahassee to discuss the "voluntary" interviews of legal Muslim visitors in that state. CAIR-FL and the FDLE agreed to build better relations in order to facilitate national security objectives while protecting the civil rights of Muslims.|
|2/12/2002||Along with representatives of several national Muslim and Arab-American groups, met with FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III to discuss issues of concern to their communities.|
|5/17/2002||Met with Glenn Fine, Inspector General for the Department of Justice, to discuss the investigation of possible abuses at INS detention centers in Passaic, New Jersey, and Brooklyn, New York.|
|7/01/2002||Called on mosques nationwide to hold a Day of Unity and Pray on the one year anniversary of the September 11th attacks. Mosques were encouraged to hold open houses on that day for people of other faiths in their local communities to help promote a better understanding of Islam and Muslims. Among those CAIR suggested inviting were "law enforcement officials."|
|3/26/2003||Facilitated a meeting between leaders of the Central Ohio Muslim community and top officials of the FBI.|
|6/19/2003||Facilitated a meeting between leaders of the Central Ohio Islamic community and 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.|
|7/09/2004||Met with representatives of the FBI and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to discuss issues of mutual concern. The meeting included three top officials of the Houston District Office of the FBI, Special Agent in Charge Roderick l. Beverly, Supervisory Special Agent Norman Williams of the Hate Crimes unit and Supervisory Special Agent Steve Gentry. The meeting was also attended by Justo Garcia, Outreach Coordinator of the Department of Justice, who offered insights on encouraging community support for law enforcement.|
|7/15/2004||Hosted a dinner for Houston Police Department (HPD) Chief Harold Hurtt.|
|7/30/2004||Met with the FBI's Miami Division, officials from the Miami-Dade Police Department, the Broward Sheriff's Office, U.S. Attorney's Office, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and the Intergovernmental Bureau of Homeland Security to discuss ways to promote better relations between law enforcement and the state's Muslim and Arab-American communities.|
|8/31/2004||Hosted a dinner for the Honorable David Wallace, mayor of the City of Sugar Land, and Sugar Land Police Department Chief Lisa Womack.|
|10/27/2004||Along with leaders of the Northeast Ohio Muslim and Arab-American communities, met with officials from the Cleveland office of the FBI, the U.S. Attorney's office and the Cleveland Police Department from the FBI, the Justice Department and local law enforcement agencies.|
|1/25/2005||Joined with leaders of Northeast Ohio Muslim and Arab-American communities and met with officials from the Department of Justice, FBI and Department of Homeland Security, including the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the investigation unit of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).|
|11/16/2005||Co-sponsored a town hall meeting at the Dar Al-Dawah Islamic Center in New York with representatives of FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force|
|12/05/2005||Met in Newark, NJ, with the US Attorney and the FBI to discuss issues of mutual concern.|
|1/11/2006||Met with FBI officials, including FBI Deputy Director John Pistole, in the agency's Washington, DC headquarters to discuss concerns about the secret monitoring of radiation levels at Muslim homes, businesses and mosques nationwide. The meeting was coordinated by the Los Angeles-based Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC).|
|2/24/2006||Met with FBI and Department of Justice (DOJ) officials at the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo to discuss concerns stemming from a recent raid on a Muslim charity and the safety of the Muslim community.|
|6/06/2006||"The FBI and Muslim community leaders met again Monday night, one in a series of gatherings since 9/11 intended to promote a better understanding of each other ... Sabiha Khan, spokeswoman for the Council on American Islamic Relations in Anaheim, said the meetings have been helpful. "Thankfully with improved training of the FBI we hear less and less of the questions about what mosque [Muslims] went to or what imam they liked to listen to," Khan said. On 6/02/2006 CAIR announced the planned community town hall meeting listing among the speakers "J. Stephen Tidwell, FBI Assistant Director of the FBI Los Angeles Field Office, and CAIR-LA Executive Director Hussam Ayloush."|
|8/15/2006||Hosted a meeting between Muslim leadership and law enforcement agencies. Senior officials from local FBI, DHS and police departments participated.|
|11/02/2006||Hosted a group of police officers from the United Arab Emirates and various law enforcement officials from Ohio for dinner as part of a continuing effort to establish positive relationships and dialogue between Ohio's Muslim community and law enforcement authorities.|
|6/19/2007||Held a town hall meeting at which New Jersey state and national law enforcement officials responded to the concerns of that state's Muslim community. At the event, more than 200 people heard from representatives of the FBI, the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness and state police. Attendees asked questions about law enforcement procedures, the legal rights of those approached by authorities and religious and ethnic profiling.|
|2/21/2008||Participated in the Los Angeles Police Department's first Muslim Community Forum. According to a news release issued by the Muslim Public affairs Council (MPAC) the forum is "(t)he product of recommendations from Muslim American organizations -- including MPAC, the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, and Muslim Advocates ... "|
|3/12/2008||The Minneapolis Star-Tribune ran a short piece noting "FBI special agent Paul McCabe said Wednesday that bureau representatives will attend a town hall meeting organized by the Minnesota office of the Council on American Islamic Relations and the Lake Harriet United Methodist Church ... The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. March 27 at Anoka Technical College, 1335 W. Hwy. 10, Anoka."|
CAIR National Board Member Sarwat Husain is a serving member of the FBI's Region Three Regional Advisory Council. The Regional Advisory Council is one of the FBI's outreach efforts for ongoing communication with the Muslim community.
As with much of the rest of this testimony, this section is offered as an example of one group's efforts. The statements found below are representative of wipespread, mainstream rejection of violent extremisim in the American Muslim community.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has a clear record of consistently and persistently condemning terrorism. Yet American Muslim groups like CAIR get repeatedly asked the question why have Muslims not spoken out against terrorism? The fact is they have.
CAIR is an advocacy group and thus takes position on issues of importance to our nation. Sometimes such stances are unpopular, but necessary. For example CAIR spoke out against torture and detainee abuse when majority public opinion was not in favor of our position. We do not expect everyone to agree with all our positions but we, like every other American, assert our right to express our views free from any fear of being ostracized, marginalized, smeared or threatened.
All date references in this section are from publicly issued CAIR statements. This section is only illustrative, not exhaustive.
CAIR's Condemnation of Terror Predates 9/11
Here is one example. The section at the end of this document provides additional examples. In 1999, CAIR made the following statements (12/20/1999) in the wake of the arrest of an Algerian man who was allegedly trying to smuggle bomb-making materials into the United States from Canada:
- "American Muslims condemn terrorism in all its forms."
- " The possibility that a Muslim could be involved in such an attack in the United States ... is a cause of distress and apprehension for our community."
- "It therefore must be clearly stated that any Muslim who plans, attempts or carries out a terrorist attack would be acting outside the boundaries of his or her faith and would be repudiated and condemned by our community."
- "American Muslims would urge that any such individuals be prosecuted to the full extent of the law."
Condemnations Supported by Positive Action
- Sends Delegation to Baghdad to Appeal for the Freedom of a Captured American Journalist -- CAIR sent two of its senior staff to appeal for the release of kidnapped American journalist Jill Carroll (1/18/2006).
- CAIR Condemns 9/11 Hours After the WTC is hit -- On September 11th, 2001 CAIR issued a statement that read, in part: "American Muslims utterly condemn what are apparently vicious and cowardly acts of terrorism against innocent civilians."
- CAIR Publishes Full Page Ad in Washington Post -- The statement noted in the above bullet-point was published in a full page ad in the Washington Post on September 16th.
- CAIR Launches on-line Petition -- In 2004 CAIR's "Not in the Name of Islam" petition declares that the terrorists are, "betraying the values of the faith they claim to represent." By August 2006 nearly 700,000 individuals and organizations endorsed the petition.
- CAIR Launches Public Service Announcements -- An ad campaign in 2003 and a Public Service Announcement (PSA) campaign launched in 2005 also project this anti-terror message. Over 6.5 million people viewed these messages.
- CAIR Coordinates Fatwa -- CAIR coordinated a fatwa, or Islamic religious ruling, against terrorism in 2005. The fatwa was issued by the Fiqh Council of North America and endorsed by more than 340 American Muslim organizations, mosques and imams. Among the statements in the fatwa are the following:
- "Islam strictly condemns religious extremism and the use of violence against innocent lives.
- Targeting civilians' life and property through suicide bombings or any other method of attack is haram -- or forbidden -- and those who commit these barbaric acts are criminals, not martyrs."
- It is haram (forbidden) for a Muslim to cooperate with any individual or group that is involved in any act of terrorism or violence."
- CAIR Appeals to Mosque Leaders to Send Anti-Terrorism Messages -- Called on American Muslim religious leaders to dedicate their Friday sermons to "condemn terrorism and promote peace and interfaith harmony." (6/07/2005)
- CAIR Takes Principled Stand Against Anti-Semitism -- CAIR has condemned anti-Semitic incidents in Chicago (2/17/2006), Houston (2/24/2005) and Calgary, Canada (8/25/2004). CAIR condemned an Iranian cartoon contest mocking the Holocaust (2/08/2006) and an anti-Semitic article published in a British Columbia Muslim newsletter (1/12/2004) and called on an Arab publication that printed excerpts of the protocols of the Elders of Zion to apologize (11/09/2002).
The Long Record of CAIR's Persistent and Consistent Condemnation of Terrorism and other Forms of Sectarian and Political Violence Includes (incidents other than those covered above)
|Date||CAIR Condemned||Date||CAIR Condemned|
|1/3/1997||Letter bombs sent to the Al-Hayat offices in DC||7/7/2005||
Terror attacks in Great Britain
|8/7/1998||The bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania||7/24/2005||Terror attacks in Egypt|
|8/10/1999||Attacks on a California Jewish Center||8/4/2005||Terror attacks in Shfaram|
|12/2/2001||Terror attacks in Jerusalem and Haifa||10/30/2005||Terror attacks in India|
|3/17/2002||Terror attacks on a Pakistani church||11/9/2005||Terror attacks in Jordan|
|3/28/2002||Terror attacks in Netanya||2/9/2006||Terror attacks on Shia Muslims|
|3/28/2002||Terror attacks on Jewish Passover celebrations||2/20/2006||Terror attacks on a Nigerian church|
|7/23/2002||Terror attacks in Gaza||4/24/2006||Terror attacks in Egypt|
|12/30/2002||The slaying of American medical personnel in Yemen||7/11/2006||Terror attacks in India|
|3/4/2003||Terror attacks in Philippines||7/28/2006||Attacks on a Seattle Jewish Center|
|5/13/2003||Terror attacks in Riyadh||7/11/2006||Mumbai bombing|
|7/5/2003||Terror attacks on a Pakistani Mosque||8/10/2006||Plot to blow up ten airplanes in route to the United States|
|10/4/2003||Terror attacks in Haifa||9/11/2006||Rhetoric and world view of Al Qaeda|
|10/15/2003||An attack on an American diplomatic convoy in Gaza||12/8/2006||Alleged planned mall bombing|
|11/20/2003||Terror attacks in Istanbul||12/21/2006||Threat against peace activist|
|3/2/2004||Terror attacks in Spain||3/6/2007||Attacks on Iraqi pilgrims|
|3/2/2004||Terror attacks on Shia Muslims||5/25/2007||India bombing|
|3/31/2004||The mutilation of American civilian contractors in Iraq||6/13/2007||Samarra mosque bombing|
|5/11/2004||Beheadings in Iraq||9/11/2007||Bin Laden's praise for 9/11 hijacker|
|6/18/2004||Beheadings in Iraq||2/21/2008||Attack on U.S. Embassy in Serbia|
|6/18/2004||The murder of an American in Saudi Arabia||11/27/2008||Mumbai Attacks|
|8/1/2004||Terror attacks on an Iraqi church||4/29/2009||Terrorism and piracy in Somalia|
|9/7/2004||Terror attacks in Russia||3/18/2010||Anwar Al-Awlaki's call for attacks on U.S.|
|9/21/2004||Beheadings in Iraq||3/29/2010||Hutaree Militia plan to kill U.S. police officers|
|10/8/2004||The killing of British hostages in Iraq||3/29/2010||Attacks on Moscow subway|
|11/17/2004||The killing of British hostages in Iraq||5/5/2010||Times Square bomb threat|
CAIR's position is clear. Any action that harms innocent civilians is reprehensible. Dialogue and diplomacy aught to be the way to overcome conflicts. Framing the discussion about terrorism in the language of damnation does not bring us any further to eradicating it.
The way forward is to address the major factors that contribute to terrorism, without justifying it. Several scholarly works suggest that religion (Islam) is not the cause of terrorism. Robert Pape, the author of Dying to Win, notes, "The central fact is that overwhelmingly suicide-terrorist attacks are not driven by religion as much as they are by a clear strategic objective: to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from the territory that the terrorists view as their homeland ... suicide terrorism is mainly a response to foreign occupation and not Islamic fundamentalism."
The unfortunate reality is that the loudest voices, smearing American Muslims and CAIR, lack any clear record of condemning similar atrocities. It is time for people of conscience to repudiate this culture of demonizing minority groups by using the worst forms of stereotype and guilt by association.
The following is a series of quotations from CAIR's public statements over the years that shows the organization's stance on a number of issues.
America's Founding Principles
"Islam made me a better citizen and patriot. The Prophet Muhammad's teachings strengthened my belief in freedom and democracy. When I first read the Quran, Islam's revealed text, and the traditions (hadith) of the Prophet Muhammad I expected to find something totally alien to American ideals. Instead, I found many of the same democratic principles that emerged from the Continental Congress in that summer of 1776." - National Legislative Director Corey Saylor, CAIR press release, 7/1/2005
"The issue of concern to me and many other Christians, Jews and Muslims is simply the upholding of our U.S. Constitutional requirement of separation of Church and State. Mayor Parris is not a private citizen anymore. He is a public official elected to public office serving Americans of diverse faith backgrounds. He is expected and required to uphold our Constitution. It is that simple. When he is not in office, he can call for a Christian community as much as he wants. I have no problem with that. I might even choose to take my family and live there (if I am tolerated). No government official or entity should be in the business of promoting or favoring any one specific religion from their official position as an elected public official. We have a secular government and a pluralistic nation whose Constitution respects the practice of religion (or lack of it for those who choose to). Pastors, Imams, Rabbis, churches, and all private citizens are welcome to work on building any religious community that they wish. (more power to them!)" - CAIR-LA Executive Director Hussam Ayloush, personal e-mail to an inquiry about CAIR's stance on a Lancaster, California Mayor R. Rex Parris declaring during his State of the City speech that the mayor was growing a "Christian community," 2/02/2010
"A core principle of American liberty is distrust of unchecked authority. This was true when the Founding Fathers objected to British writs of assistance; it remains true today." - National Legislative Director Corey Saylor, CAIR press release, 9/21/2007
"I also respect the Constitution and its support for religious pluralism. Just as I want my government to not establish a particular religion, I also desire that they not prohibit its free exercise. It is a delicate balancing act. Getting that balance right is what makes American freedom unique and enviable." - Former National Legal Director Arsalan Iftikhar, CAIR op-ed, 2/28/2005
"The right to challenge your detention before a judge is a cherished aspect of American liberty, what is good for American citizens should be good for everyone, and that is the standard we must project to the world." - National Legislative Director Corey Saylor, CAIR press release, 9/18/2007
"America is a pluralistic society, and it welcomes all different faiths, but it's up to each of those different faiths to assert itself in the public sphere." - National Legislative Director Corey Saylor, CAIR press release, 10/3/2007
"America's historic success in avoiding Europe and Asia's religious conflicts has been based on our ability to uphold the Constitutional separation of church and state." - CAIR-LA Executive Director Hussam Ayloush, personal e-mail to an inquiry about CAIR's stance on a Lancaster, California Mayor R. Rex Parris declaring during his State of the City speech that the mayor was growing a "Christian community."
The Quranic order that there be "no compulsion in religion" (2:256) reverberates in James Madison's, "The religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man." - Former National Legal Director Arsalan Iftikhar, CAIR op-ed, 7/01/2005
"True peace and understanding will only come when we all - Muslims, Christians, Jews, and people of other faiths and philosophies - cast off the prejudices and preconceptions of the past to engage each other based on what we have in common, not on what has separated us for so long." - National Executive Director Nihad Awad, An Open Letter to President Obama and the Muslim World, 5/29/2009
"As forces of hate in this country and worldwide try to pull Muslims and Christians apart, we are in desperate need of a unifying force that can bridge the widening gap of interfaith misunderstanding and mistrust. That force could be the message of love, peace and forgiveness taught by Jesus and accepted by followers of both faiths." - National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR op-ed, 12/19/2009
"Like the Caliph Umar who refused to pray in a Jerusalem church because his followers might then be tempted to turn it into a mosque, Muslims have a religious duty to respect and protect all houses of worship." - National Executive Director Nihad Awad, CAIR press release, 2/19/2006
"It is time for the majority of Muslims, Christians and Jews to stand up and say they will not let the fringe of any faith group dictate how they view and interact with each other." - National Executive Director Nihad Awad, CAIR op-ed, 1/11/2005
"Islam does not only mean peace, Islam emphasizes peaceful coexistence as a supreme goal. Thus, Islamic ethos unequivocally condemns terrorism of any sort ... Each gruesome act that shocked Americans, from the murder of Daniel Pearl in Pakistan, to the bombing of a Jewish Seder party in Israel, to the beheading of Nick Berg in Iraq, to the massacre in Beslan to the subway bombings in London, has equally shocked Muslims and brought with it swift and unequivocal condemnations. American Muslim organizations also rallied behind a fatwa (Islamic juristic opinion) against terrorism. ..." - Former National Board Chairman Parvez Ahmad, CAIR press release, 4/09/2007
"The Star of David is a sacred symbol of faith and Muslims are stressed by Islam to respect all symbols of faith ..." - Oklahoma Chapter Executive Director Razi Hashmi, The Oklahoman, 1/06/2009, on why a protestor whose self-made sign depicted the religious symbol with a Nazi swastika at its center, was banned from future CAIR sponsored protests or demonstrations. The article also notes, "[CAIR] distributed rules before the demonstration that no offensive signs or banners would be tolerated."
"CAIR-California condemns broad-brush attacks on any faith group. Regardless of where one stands on controversial issues, public discourse should remain civil, fair and respectful. It is unacceptable for any side in a political debate to promote religious intolerance." - Media Release, 11/05/2008
"The United States Holocaust Memorial is an important reminder of where indifference to intolerant and misinformed comments can lead." - National Legislative Director Corey Saylor, CAIR press release, 12/18/2006
"We request that unhelpful rhetoric targeting America or minimizing the suffering of the Jewish people in the Holocaust be avoided so as not to further inflame already tense relations between our two nations." - CAIR letter to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, hand delivered in New York, 9/21/2006
"It is our belief that the proper response to this situation is for Muslims and Catholics worldwide to increase dialogue and outreach efforts aimed at building better relations between Christianity and Islam. We oppose any language or action that tends to shake the friendship and alliance between our faiths." - CAIR letter to Papal Nuncio Archbishop Pietro Sambi in the wake of comments made by Pope Benedict XVI that many Muslims found troubling, 9/21/2006
"Islamic scholars say the original rulings on apostasy were similar to those for treasonous acts in legal systems worldwide and do not apply to an individual's choice of religion. Islam advocates both freedom of religion and freedom of conscience, a position supported by verses in the Quran, Islam's revealed text, such as:
- 'If it had been the will of your Lord that all the people of the world should be believers, all the people of the earth would have believed! Would you then compel mankind against their will to believe?' (10:99)
- '(O Prophet) proclaim: 'This is the Truth from your Lord. Now let him who will, believe in it, and him who will, deny it.'' (18:29)
- 'If they turn away from thee (O Muhammad) they should know that We have not sent you to be their keeper. Your only duty is to convey My message.' (42:48)
- 'Let there be no compulsion in religion.' (2:256)
"Religious decisions should be matters of personal choice, not a cause for state intervention. Faith imposed by force is not true belief, but coercion. Islam has no need to compel belief in its divine truth. As the Quran states: 'Truth stands out clear from error. Therefore, whoever rejects evil and believes in God has grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold that never breaks.' (2:256) - CAIR press release, 3/22/2006
Separating Islam from Violent Extremists
"Associating Islam with the actions of terrorists and religious extremists implies that we accept their argument that what they do is based on a legitimate interpretation of the faith. It is best to call them what they are -- criminals, terrorists, extremists -- without giving them the false religious justification they seek." - National Legislative Director Corey Saylor, CAIR press release, 1/29/2008
"Literally, jihad means to strive, struggle and exert effort. It is a central and broad Islamic concept that includes:
- "Struggle against evil inclinations within oneself through self-purification and piety (jihad-un-nafs). This type of struggle is stated in the Quran using the same root of jihad in the context of prayer and charity (22:77-78).
- "Struggle to improve the quality of life in society, promoting goodness and resisting evil. The Quran describes itself as a 'tool of jihad' (25:52). Jihad here means striving with evidence and sound judgment.
- "Struggle in the battlefield if necessary for self-defense (e.g. having a standing army for national defense), or fighting against tyranny or oppression. In military conflicts, strict regulations were given by the Prophet Muhammad and his successors to avoid hurting non-combatants and prevent destruction of property.
"The equivalent of the term 'holy war' in Arabic is 'harb muqaddasah,' a term that cannot be found in the Quran or the Prophet's sayings (hadith). There is no such thing as 'holy war' in Islam, as some careless translators may imply. It is rather a loaded Medieval concept that did not arise within the Muslim community. "Because of the frequent repetition of this myth, that jihad means 'Holy War,' most people in the West accept it as if it were a fact.
"The aspect of jihad that entails military action is what legitimate states carry out to defend the weak, to protect the society and to establish justice. In the Quran, Islam's revealed text, it states, "Fight in the cause of God those who fight you, but do not transgress limits (by beginning hostilities). God does not love transgressors." (2:190) Also, "Dispute not with the people of the Book (Jews and Christians) except in the politest way, unless it is with those of them who do wrong. But say: We believe in the revelation which has come down to us and in that which came down to you. Our God and your God is One; and it is to Him we submit." (29:46)
"It is reported by Muslim scholars that when a man approached the Prophet Muhammad asking to join his troops in battle, the Prophet asked if his parents were alive. The man said they were. The prophet told the man, "Then strive in serving and providing for them (fa fihima fa jahid)." Another tradition quotes the Prophet as saying, ' ... the mujahid (one who carries out jihad) is he who strives against himself for the sake of obeying God.' The Prophet also said one of the best forms of jihad is 'a word of truth in front of an oppressive ruler.'
"Anyone, even a Muslim, who translates jihad as 'holy war,' is making a linguistic and historical error." - CAIR Letter to Vice President Al Gore, 10/06/1995
Race and Racial Profiling
"In the Quran, Islam's revealed text, God states: 'O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other (not that you may despise each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of God is the most righteous of you.' (49:13)
"The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) also clearly stated Islamic principles of racial equality when he said: 'A white (person) has no superiority over a black (person) nor does a black have any superiority over a white except by piety and good action.'" (The Prophet Muhammad's [PBUH] last sermon delivered on the 9th day of Dhul Hijjah, 10 A.H.) - CAIR press release expressing support for the "principles of economic and social justice, individual responsibility and political empowerment outlined by organizers of the 'Million Man March'" but opposing the views espoused by Minister Louis Farrakhan.
"Everyone is in favor of airline safety. But security plans should not use stereotypes, race, religion, national origin, or political opinions as a basis to determine who will be subjected to heightened security measures." - CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad, CAIR press release 9/23/1996
"We're very pleased, of course, and I think that it's important that competent women are advanced in our community. But I do not think it is an anomaly. There have been four women presidents or prime ministers of Muslim-majority nations, and we have yet to have a woman president in the United States." - CAIR-Cleveland Executive Director Julia Shearson, commenting on a woman being elected as president of a mosque in Toledo, Ohio, Toledo Blade, 6/09/2009
"Under Islamic law, women have always had the right to own property, receive an education and otherwise take part in community life. The Islamic rules for modest dress apply to women and men equally. (Men cannot expose certain parts of their bodies, wear gold or silk, etc.) If a particular society oppresses women, it does so in spite of Islam, not because of it." - CAIR press release, 2/12/1996
"Denying Muslim women the right to vote violates both Islamic and Canadian norms. We call on the [British Columbia] Muslim Association to grant women the rights they are guaranteed by Islam." - CAIR Canada Executive Director Riad Saloojee, CAIR press release, 10/31/2005
"Using references in the Quran, Islam's revealed text, and the traditions (hadith) of the Prophet Muhammad, the publication's authors call for improvements in women's access to mosque facilities, greater participation of women in mosque program planning and development of a mosque governance structure that allows women and youth to have input in decision-making. The Prophet Muhammad is also quoted as saying in his final sermon: 'The rights of women are sacred, so see that they are maintained.'" - 2005 CAIR press release supporting the religious rights of Muslim women to mosques throughout the United States, 6/22/2005
"If someone mistreats women they should not seek refuge in Islam." - CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, New York Times, 2/21/2009
First Amendment Free Speech
"As a matter of principle, we don't support such bans. They tend to be selective, in that only popular speech is allowed and unpopular speech is not allowed." - National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, San Francisco Chronicle, 5/06/2009, commenting on news that conservative radio commentator and frequent CAIR critic Michael Savage was banned from entering Britain for allegedly fostering extremism and hatred.
"You are of course free to hold any views you choose on issues of importance to the American public, but these views should not be presented in a way that stereotypes one religious minority in America." - Letter to Vice President Al Gore, 10/06/1995
"The First Amendment protects even bigoted speech, but those who value mutual understanding should have an equal right to speak out and be heard." - National Legislative Director Corey Saylor, CAIR press release, 2/5/2008
"Muslims are not in favor of censorship. We only ask that media outlets adhere to journalistic standards of fairness, accuracy and objectivity." - Executive Director Nihad Awad, CAIR press release, 7/07/1998
" Legitimate expression of political opinions by community members should not lead to criminal investigations." - Executive Director Nihad Awad, CAIR press release, 10/7/1998
"We believe strongly in freedom of speech and support Ann Coulter's right to hold even bigoted and hate-filled views." - Former Communications Coordinator Rabiah Ahmed, CAIR press release, 3/10/2004
Freedom of Worship
"Islam guarantees freedom to and freedom from religion ... . [We] reject as un-Islamic any extremist interpretation that sanctions the killing of any individual because she decided to 'leave Islam.'" - Former South Florida chapter Executive Director Muhammed Malik, Miami Herald, 4/16/2010
"The Islamic teachings call for the right to free worship. A verse in the Quran states, 'There is no compulsion in religion,' and highlights the spirit of tolerance in Islam." -Los Angeles chapter spokeswoman Munira Syeda, Daily Breeze, 4/25/2009
"As American Muslims, we value the right to freely practice one's faith." - National Executive Director Nihad Awad, CAIR press release, 7/5/2001
"Unfortunately the right to freely practice one's faith is not universally applied. I bring your attention to the denial of religious freedom now taking place in the Republic of Turkey." - National Executive Director Nihad Awad, CAIR press release, 5/06/1999
"Freedom of religion should be a valued aspect of any society. People of all faiths must be granted the right to freely practice their religion without government interference or intimidation." - CAIR press release, 10/18/2006, criticizing a ban on headscarves in Tunisia
"Secret evidence is a legal short-cut that does not lead to justice. An unconstitutional measure that is today used against Muslims and Arabs could one day negatively impact the legal rights of anyone in our society." - National Executive Director Nihad Awad, CAIR press release, 5/19/1999
Religion in the Public Sphere
"Muslims believe there is no contradiction between allowing children and teachers to observe their faith and maintaining state neutrality on religion. They also believe that arrangements can be made so that children performing their prayer do not miss significant instructional time, leave the classroom unsupervised or disturb the use of school space." - Former Director of Research Dr. Mohamed Nimer, CAIR press release, 5/21/1998
"Khalid [Duran] has the absolute right to write whatever he wants ... if there was a fatwa [containing a threat against Duran], we would condemn it utterly." - National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, Associated Press, 6/30/2001
"We have to serve the public. Allah (swt) described the Prophet (s) as a public servant to mankind: 'We have not sent you except as a mercy to mankind.' It is a strategic obligation on Muslims in the West to prove that they are a mercy and blessing to Australia, to America, to Europe because you are there and you have to touch people's hearts through your service. We say in the West 'if you would like to be a leader, you have to be a servant' because leadership is service. We cannot just ask people to be sympathizers and understanding of Islam if we ourselves do not live Islam and touch people's hearts as a neighbour, as a classmate, as a co-worker, as friends around us." - National Executive Director Nihad Awad, speech presented at FAMSY's 20th Annual Conference, RMIT University Melbourne, July 13-14, 2002
Terrorism and Suicide Bombings
"As Muslims and as Americans, we will never let terrorist groups or terror leaders falsely claim to represent us or our faith. The legitimate grievances of Muslims in many areas of the world can never serve as an excuse or a justification for attacks on civilian populations. - CAIR press release 11/19/2008
"We condemn terrorism whenever it happens, wherever it happens, whoever commits it. Period." - Dispelling Rumors About CAIR, April 2009
"Islam strictly condemns religious extremism and the use of violence against innocent lives. There is no justification in Islam for extremism or terrorism. Targeting civilians' life and property through suicide bombings or any other method of attack is haram -- or forbidden -- and those who commit these barbaric acts are criminals, not martyrs." - 2006 fatwa, or religious edict, coordinated by CAIR and issued by the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA) and endorsed by hundreds of U.S. Muslim groups, leaders and institutions.
"We condemn this attack and all other attacks on innocent civilians. Illegitimate and counterproductive tactics must not be used in the legitimate struggle to end Israel's occupation. This attack is of particular concern coming as it did during a religious observance in which the focus is remembrance of God." - CAIR press release, 3/28/2002, condemning a Hamas attack on a Jewish Passover celebration
"I don't support Hamas today. My position and CAIR's position is extremely clear: we condemn suicide bombings. We are mainstream American Muslims." - National Executive Director Nihad Awad, Associated Press, 11/22/2006
"National American Muslim groups have condemned attacks on civilians, including last week's Passover bombing, the murder of journalist Daniel Pearl and the recent killings at a Pakistani church. Where are the voices of national Jewish organizations in condemning Israel's brutal military assaults now being carried out against Muslim and Christian Palestinian civilians? - Former National Governmental Affairs Director Jason Erb, CAIR press release, 4/01/2002
While reaffirming its continued condemnation of terrorism on the third anniversary of the Madrid train bombings, CAIR released a statement saying, "Our position is clear. We unequivocally condemn all acts of terrorism, whether carried out by al-Qa'ida, the Real IRA, FARC, Hamas, ETA, or any other group designated by the U.S. Department of State as a 'Foreign Terrorist Organization.'" - CAIR press release, 3/11/2009
"We are dedicated to reaching out to the re-elected President and his administration, advancing the twin causes of pluralism and diversity in American society." - CAIR open letter to Muslims on the November 2 elections, 11/05/2004
"With a sense of God-consciousness, the AMPCC believes American Muslims must defend our country intellectually, spiritually, and physically. We must defend America against terrorism and violence. We must defend its civil liberties, its religious pluralism, and coalesce the Islamic and American spirit of respect and tolerance. We must do so in the best of forms through kindness, care, harmony, healing, and love." - CAIR endorsed statement issued by the American Muslim Political Coordinating Council, 9/01/2003
"Fortunately, our constitution and political culture are on the side of pluralism. Our laws protect all religions and our culture teaches us to look to ourselves as a religiously-diverse nation that should set an example for the rest of the world. It is up to us to stand firm and united in the face of any intolerant forces that may seek to divide our nation. Failure to do so will jeopardize our role as a model for tolerance and human rights." - Former researcher Alaa Bayoumi, CAIR op-ed, 1/12/2006
"CAIR embraces the cultural and religious pluralism that is a hallmark of America and repudiates any misuse of Islam to falsely justify violence or intolerance." - National Board Chairman Sen. Larry Shaw, CAIR press release, 3/03/2009
"I have no problem with my Christian brothers and sisters praying to God or mentioning His name any time of the day. As a person of faith, I do so many times a day and I am proud and happy to see others do so to." - CAIR-Greater Los Angeles Area Executive Director Hussam Ayloush, personal e-mail to an inquiry about CAIR's stance on a Lancaster, California Mayor R. Rex Parris declaring during his State of the City speech that the mayor was growing a "Christian community." 2/02/2010
Seeking Political Solutions Rather than Pursuing Violence
"Dialogue and mutual respect, rather than senseless violence or repressive tactics, are the only answers to social, political and economic grievances. Islam seeks just and stable societies and condemns the wanton destruction of lives and property." - CAIR statement, 11/08/2005
"To break this cycle of violence and counter-violence, all parties must focus on a political solution based on justice and equality, not force of arms." - CAIR press release, 3/28/2002
"American Muslims support President Bush's effort to cut off funding for terrorism and we call for a peaceful resolution to the Middle East conflict." - CAIR press release, 12/04/2001
"Muslims must always stand for truth and justice and resist falsehood and oppression even when committed by Muslims. ..." - Michigan Chapter Executive Director Dawud Walid, as cited in the Houston Chronicle, 1/26/2009
"As an American Muslim, I ask leaders, governments and individuals in the Islamic world to make similar changes and to implement similar reforms. First, government, civic and religious leaders must foster a culture of respect for human and minority rights, political and religious dissent, freedom of expression, and the rule of law. Governments in the Muslim world must encourage full political participation in systems of government that abide by the separation of powers and are held in check by independent judiciaries. Leaders and individuals in Muslim nations must also respect the results of free and fair elections." - Executive Director Nihad Awad, An Open Letter to President Obama and the Muslim World, 5/29/2009