(CHICAGO, IL, 5/06/08) – A prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group today said an emergency preparedness drill in Illinois, in which a fake “mosque” was stormed by law enforcement authorities, sends the “wrong message” that all Islamic houses of worship may be potential security threats.
The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said officials from almost 30 government agencies participated in the drill Thursday in Irving, Ill., targeting a community facility that had been re-named the “Irving Mosque” for the purposes of the exercise. In the exercise, officers from the Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System (ILEAS) stormed the “mosque” using an armored car. One “hostage” was hooked up to an explosive device and the “suspects” in the “mosque” released nerve gas.
“The use of a fake ‘mosque’ in this type of drill sends the wrong message to law enforcement officials who may now view mainstream institutions, such as Islamic houses of worship, as potential security threats,” said Ahmed Rehab, executive director of CAIR’s Chicago chapter (CAIR-Chicago). “Officials must be trained in dealing with hostage-taking and responding to chemical, biological or bomb attacks. We are only questioning the wisdom of linking the American Muslim community and its institutions to such incidents.”
Rehab noted that FBI Director Robert Mueller recently cited cooperation from American Muslims in maintaining national security. At a congressional hearing in April, Mueller said: “And every opportunity I have, I re-affirm the fact that 99.9 percent of Muslim-Americans or Sikh-Americans, Arab-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.”
Last month, CAIR’s chapter in Pennsylvania (CAIR-PA) called on police training officials in that state to offer a Muslim perspective in a mandatory police training class because of concerns that the class may present stereotypical views of Islam and Muslims.
CAIR, America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 35 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. 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.
CONTACT: CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab, 202-870-0166, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail: email@example.com; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org