Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

FBI Readies Census of Muslims and Mosques

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

FBI Readies Census of Muslims and Mosques

Article excerpt

Agents in the FBI's 56 field offices will begin taking their own census of Muslims and their places of worship as part of the nation's anti-terrorism effort -- a mandate that has ratcheted up the fear level in the Muslim community.

The FBI said mosques are included in the survey to protect the Muslim community from hate crimes. But civil rights advocates nationwide accused the government of profiling and said the FBI's plans are spreading fear throughout Muslim communities.

"The impression it gives to the public is that you should be suspicious of every mosque you see because something bad could be going on there," said Omar Dajani, board member at the Arab American Community Center and an activist in Central Florida. "I appreciate everything the government does to protect the American public, but I disagree with some of the tactics used to achieve that goal."

The New York-based National Conference for Community and Justice called the policy a "frightening example of inappropriate and misdirected religious profiling."

"Such religious profiling would not be contemplated for any other religious minority in the United States, and would be soundly and instantly condemned by all leaders," president and CEO Sanford Cloud Jr. said in a statement.

However, representatives at Islamic centers in Southeast Georgia said the FBI has asked them no questions about their membership or any donations they make.

"No one has been by here to take a census. Personally, we've not had any problems,'' said Sakinah Ali, office manager of the Masjid Jihad in Savannah.

"It's basically been the opposite of that. After Sept. 11 [2001], our imam was busy for a year giving presentations and answering questions,'' Ali said. The imam conducted programs at schools and churches and took numerous questions from politicians, she said.

Masjid Jihad draws Muslims from as far south as Glynn County for special gatherings. …

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