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Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy
organization, today urged Muslim community leaders to consider instituting additional safety measures in response to hate rallies by possibly armed anti-Muslim extremists targeting mosques nationwide on October 10.
[NOTE: October 9 has also been mentioned online as a date for the hate rallies.]
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CAIR's alert states:
"Media reports and monitoring of anti-Muslim hate sites indicate that a small group of anti-Muslim extremists with a history of violent rhetoric are attempting to organize hate rallies outside a number of mosques across the nation on October 10.
"Organizers of the hate rallies have indicated that participants in states with open carry laws may be armed and that provocations such as the use of live pigs and Quran desecrations may occur.
"The anti-Islam rallies come at a time of increased hate-motivated crimes and bias incidents nationwide targeting persons and property associated, or perceived to be associated, with Islam and the American Muslim community.
"Many of these planned rallies may not take place, or they may consist of only a handful of people shouting slurs at worshipers. But given the recent endorsement of Islamophobia by national public figures, it would only be prudent for mosque and community leaders to prepare for any eventuality."
CAIR recommends that community leaders immediately:
1. Alert local law enforcement authorities to the possibility of a hate rally outside the mosque and request advice about the best way to protect worshipers against possibly armed protesters.
2. Request a stepped up police presence on October 9 (Jummah) and on October 10, the day of the nationwide hate rallies. (For a fee, many local police departments will provide officers to be present at a facility during services.)
3. Inform community members about the issue and urge them not to be provoked by any hate rhetoric or actions. (Do not engage in a debate or become angry; you do not want to escalate the situation.)
4. Ask local elected and public officials to issue statements condemning this campaign of religious intimidation.
5. Ask local interfaith partners, police and officials to be present at the mosque as a show of support.
6. Prepare signs rejecting hate speech and promoting mutual understanding and religious diversity to be used in any counter-protest.
7. Take video of the entire hate protest. Anyone taking video of the hate rally should not get too close to or interact with the participants.
8. Immediately report any threatening or potentially-violent actions by the hate rally participants to police.
9. Report any bias incidents to police and to CAIR's Civil Rights Department at 202-742-6420 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
10. Consider scheduling a town hall meeting to discuss the issue of growing Islamophobia and the need for community peace building.
Community leaders are also being asked to implement long-term safety measures outlined in CAIR's booklet, "Best Practices for Mosque and Community Safety," which was published in response to previous attacks on American mosques.
A free copy of the booklet may be requested by going to: http://www.cair.com/mosque-safety-guide.html
CAIR's safety guide states in part:
"A general framework in which to think about institutional security falls within the following broad categories:
Assess Your Vulnerability
Prepare and Plan
"This framework can be applied to all sorts of security issues, from hate graffiti to burglary or to an active-shooter episode. Decision-makers must decide which recommendations are best applied to their facility. They must also decide the order in which they will implement the process."
Other initial safety steps recommended in CAIR's guide include:
Develop a Legal Contact List
Develop a list of attorneys who are willing to be consulted by the Muslim community in response to backlash incidents. Ask Muslim attorneys to volunteer their services to community members during this time of crisis.
Develop Positive Relationships with Law Enforcement Agencies
Community leaders should, in cooperation with local civil rights advocates and attorneys, immediately coordinate meetings between representatives of the Muslim community and local and state law enforcement agencies. These meetings should focus on ways in which the community can help improve security and on how authorities can protect Muslims, Arab-Americans and other targeted minorities from harassment and discrimination.
Meet with Elected Officials to Discuss Community Concerns
Delegations of Muslim representatives should schedule meetings with local, state and national elected representatives or their key staff to discuss community concerns.
Build Coalitions with Interfaith and Minority Groups
Meetings should be coordinated with representatives of local interfaith and minority groups. These meetings should focus on building lines of communication and support, and hearing from these groups how they deal with discrimination and bigotry.
Meet with Local School Officials to Discuss Student Safety
Representatives of the Muslim community should meet with local school and school board officials to discuss safety plans for students and to sensitize the administrators to harassment of Muslim students.
Build an Emergency Contact List
Community leaders should develop emergency email, text message and phone contact lists to be used in case of an incident that threatens the community's safety. Local imams, Islamic center board members and Muslim activists should be on the lists. A second list should be developed containing contact information for all local law enforcement agencies.
Hold a Community Meeting to Inform Others of Safety Guidelines
Call for a meeting of the local Muslim community to discuss the information outlined in this kit. The meeting should take place at a local mosque or Islamic center and should be advertised using the emergency contact list.
Establish a Community Support Network
Establish a network of community members who can offer emotional and material support to those who may be the victims of hate crimes or discrimination. Victims should not be left alone to deal with the negative impact of such incidents.
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.