Dawn: ‘Mosque’ raid drill irks Muslims in US

SAN FRANCISCO, May 9: American Muslim civil rights groups have denounced an exercise by US security officials in which a place designated as a ‘mosque’ was stormed in Irving. Over 120 officials from about 30 government agencies participated in the drill, targeting a community facility that had been named the ‘Irving mosque’. Officers from the Illinois Law-Enforcement Alarm System stormed the building using an armoured car. One ‘hostage’ was hooked up to an explosive device and the ‘suspects’ in the ‘mosque’ released nerve gas.

American Muslim Voice president Khalid Saeed said the outrage should be offensive to the sensibilities of all civilised Americans and it should be condemned in strongest possible way because it sent a wrong message about a large peaceful segment of American society and Islam.

“The use of a fake ‘mosque’ in this type of a 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,” according to Ahmed Rehab, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “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.”

A preview of the exercise was highlighted by the media with sensational headlines like: “Pennsylvania’s police prepare for radical Islam” and “Radical Islam: A law-enforcement primer.”

Mr Saeed said the exercise would reinforce the anti-Islam and anti-Muslim image among the masses.

Copyright © 2008 Dawn