Press Release: Muslim Civil Rights Group Expresses Deep Concern With FBI Raids
(CHICAGO, 9/28/10) - CAIR-Chicago announced today that it is deeply concerned about the FBI’s recent raids on the homes of anti-war activists in the Midwest. CAIR-Chicago’s Executive Director Ahmed Rehab and Staff Attorney Kevin Vodak were present at a protest in front of the FBI Chicago headquarters yesterday. Rehab ran interviews with the Chicago Tribune and CBS2. CAIR-Chicago is issuing the following statement in response to the raids:
"The FBI has overstepped its bounds in targeting individuals based on their commitment to peacefully challenge US policies in Palestine and Columbia.
"Contrary to the accusations that these individuals were involved in terrorism-related activity, they are known in the community as peace advocates who fight ensure that our country does not further human rights abuses.
"As a Civil Rights agency we cannot afford to stay silent when a citizen’s home is raided simply because he or she dared to practice their freedom of speech by voicing an opinion the government deems unfavorable.
"We must remind the government that its job is not to limit the things we say, but to protect our fundamental right to say them.
"It is our right, in fact our duty as citizens to keep our government in line when it goes too far, and today, it has gone too far.
"What makes this nation great are our precious rights and freedoms afforded under the constitution. We have the right to free speech and freedom of assembly.
"These raids, searches and grand jury investigations come off as an attempt to limit these rights through the creation of a chilling effect.
"Even the Justice Department’s Inspector General criticized FBI domestic terrorism investigations of nonviolent left-leaning groups.
"The AP just reported yesterday that the Inspector General has called on the bureau to discipline FBI agents and test them to see if they understand rules regarding surveillance on Americans without evidence of criminal wrongdoing.
"America thrives on a system of checks and balances. We understand that the role of the FBI is an important one. FBI agents are at the forefront of fighting crime, corruption, and security threats for which they must be thanked and supported. But what happens when there is a misuse of power within the agency? What happens if there is bias or overreach? Who checks the FBI? There needs to be stronger oversight and stronger controls over the bureau's use of its investigative powers.
"We call on the Justice Department to immediately withdraw the grand jury proceedings of the anti-war activists, return all confiscated materials, and cease targeting those who exercise their First Amendment rights to dissent."
CAIR-Chicago is a chapter of the largest Muslim civil liberties group, which has 35 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, 312.212.1520 or 202.870.0166, E-Mail: email@example.com; CAIR-Chicago Communications Coordinator, Amina Sharif, 312.212.1520 or 630-935-5562, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org