PRESS RELEASE: CAIR-Chicago Seeks Police, FBI Probe of Fake Islamophobic Mosque Website
(WHEATON, IL, 1/11/16) - The Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago) today urged state and national law enforcement authorities to investigate a fake website purporting to represent the Islamic Center of Wheaton (ICW) in Wheaton, Ill., which contains hate-filled and defamatory claims about Islam and the center.
Members of the ICW board reported the fake website to CAIR-Chicago over the weekend. Based on CAIR-Chicago's advice, the ICW has filed a police report as well as a report with the cybercrime unit of the FBI.
ICW's official website is www.icwonline.org. The fake website purporting to represent ICW by using its name, logo, and website design is at www.icwonline.today. (CAIR-Chicago does not advise clicking on internal links within the fake website which may be malicious)
The fake website was accompanied by an email sent to various Wheaton dignitaries, including the mayor. Both the email and the website falsely claim ICW affiliation with ISIS and both sought to present threats in ICW's name and on behalf of Islam and Muslims.
The website decried interfaith activities and called local Christians who engage Muslims in dialogue, "sleep walkers" threatening them with regret. It mocked local professor Larycia Hawkins who has been targeted by her employer, the Christian Wheaton College, for likely termination due to her "unqualified assertion of solidarity with Muslims and Jews."
ICW is widely noted for its active interfaith program and positive relationships and dialogue with the various faith communities of Wheaton, particularly the Christian community. Its efforts have been recognized by the local Islamic federation (CIOGC).
CAIR-Chicago called the fake website, "malicious, dangerous, and laden with criminal components."
"We are seeing the relatively uncontested rise of anti-Muslim extremism, often in the name of religion or pseudo-patriotism," CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab said.
"Here you have someone who is threatened by Muslim moderation, positive community relations and exemplary interfaith work. They have an interest in faking a radical agenda on behalf of ICW; they do not feel threatened by radicalism, but by moderation. They feel well-served by radicalism. That speaks volumes about the nature and agenda of this growing sub-demographic."
CAIR-Chicago said it will follow up with the service provider and law enforcement authorities to seek the removal of the threatening website. "We are confident in law enforcement's readiness and competence to resolve this threat, and look forward to working with them." Rehab added.
"ICW remains committed to Islam's values of peaceful coexistence and positive outreach to our neighbors, and this hateful act will not change that. We are extremely concerned for the safety of our community and trust that law enforcement will get to the bottom of this," said Abraham Antar, President of ICW.
CAIR-Chicago pointed to false impersonation, support of a terrorist organization and intent to inflict irreparable damage and unquantifiable harm, particularly in the current climate of record peaks in Islamophobia as concerns mandating removal of the malicious content. CAIR-Chicago is additionally concerned about the potential for misguided vigilante action against the center or the community as a result of this dangerous and libelous mischaracterization.
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.