A CALL FOR FBI ACCOUNTABILITY
(Washington, DC - 3/25/09)—National Muslim American organizations met with the FBI last week to voice concerns about undercover agents in mosques, to stress the need for government agencies to engage with all Muslim American groups, and to discuss ways the FBI can continue to protect American citizens while operating with transparency. The meeting was part of an ongoing dialogue between the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), the Muslim Students Association - National (MSA National), and FBI officials.
Two decades ago, Muslim organizations demanded a place at the table with federal law enforcement in order to have a forum through which to address our concerns, our communities’ experiences, and share our recommendations about fostering greater understanding between law enforcement and Muslim Americans. We collectively won our place at the table and have consistently utilized these local and national public forums to raise community concerns about profiling and stigmatization resulting from various investigations and prosecutions.
Turning our back on these public outreach forums will not cause them to cease existing. Our place at the table will simply be taken up by others, namely Islamophobes and individuals who may allow policies to be formulated that will adversely affect our community.
We have been and will continue to discuss these issues and our collective concerns about law enforcement tactics with the leaders of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Muslim American Society (MAS) and many others. We will continue to use our place at the table to voice our disagreements with the FBI, to demand transparency in disclosing law enforcement guidelines to address the issue of agent provocateurs, and to call for the agency to engage in dialogue with all Muslim groups rather than creating a divisive climate which alienates some and meets with others.
We will continue to call for expanded dialogue and interaction with all government agencies (not just law enforcement) and the Muslim American community. It would be a grave mistake to define civic engagement solely within the prism of law enforcement. Civic engagement runs across all aspects of civil society, including philanthropy, education, and volunteerism. As such, our stand is for more discourse, not less, with our government, with the purpose of addressing challenges facing America and its Muslim American community.
As our community continues to grow and flourish, so will our opinions and approaches. Following the example of our esteemed religious scholars, we will continue to respect and work with our fellow brothers and sisters even when our methods differ. We applaud leaders in mosques around the country who have participated in outreach with government agencies and elected officials. The mosques are our communities’ most valued assets, and we will work to protect them and strengthen them.
We will continue to advocate on behalf of Muslim Americans, speaking truth to power and promoting partnerships to demonstrate the Muslim American resolve in protecting our communities and our country.
For more information, visit: