Worried about the increasing reports of FBI pressures on mosque imams nationwide to inform on members of their congregations, a leading US Muslim advocacy group has urged imams to seek legal assistance from an attorney, whenever they are approached by officers.
“American Muslim leaders and institutions should maintain positive relations with local and federal law enforcement authorities, but those relations must be built on respect for constitutionally-protected civil rights,” Jenifer Wicks, Civil rights Litigation Director at the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), was quoted by Defending Dissent earlier this week.
“Consulting with an attorney is the best way to protect your rights.”
CAIR, the USA’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, said it has received reports from around the nation of mosque officials being asked to meet with FBI agents and then being pressed to inform on members of their congregations.
In an advisory to Muslim community leaders, CAIR recommended that before any meeting with the FBI or any law enforcement agency, US Muslim leaders should seek the advice of an attorney and have that attorney present at any meeting.
Wicks urged community leaders to ask for business cards from those individuals from the FBI and immediately consult with an attorney before any questioning takes place.
CAIR’s “Know Your Rights and Responsibilities” pocket guide tells American Muslims to report any actual knowledge of criminal activity without being asked by law enforcement authorities.
It states: “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 to due process and 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.
See also “FBI approaching U.S. mosque leaders for questioning”, CAIR press release, 24 October 2014