Broad Coalition Urges 'Full Public Accounting' for Government Surveillance of U.S. Muslim Leaders

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

CAIR Department to Monitor and Combat Islamophobia Director Corey Saylor, 202-384-8857, csaylor@cair.com

CAIR Staff Attorney Gadeir Abbas, 202-742-6410, 720-251-0425, gabbas@cair.com

CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, ihooper@cair.com

Broad Coalition Urges 'Full Public Accounting' for Government Surveillance of U.S. Muslim Leaders

WASHINGTON - The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization, today joined with a broad-based coalition of 45 organizations, led by the ACLU, in insisting that President Obama "provide a full public accounting" of surveillance practices of American Muslim leaders.

According to new revelations by journalists Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hussain, CAIR's national executive director was among those reported to be targeted for surveillance. Addressing that apparent targeting, CAIR said: "This is an outrageous continuation of civil rights era surveillance of minority community leadership by government elements who see threats in all patriotic dissent."

[NOTE: In response to the new revelations, the White House called for a review of training and policy materials for racial or religious bias, but has not yet offered a position on the surveillance issue.]

In a letter to President Obama, the coalition wrote in part:

"The First Look report is troubling because it arises in this broader context of abuse. Documents obtained through an American Civil Liberties Union Freedom of Information Act request show that the FBI has been mapping a broad spectrum of communities, including American Muslim communities, the African American community and Latino American communities, without any basis for individualized suspicion. Under the guise of community outreach, the FBI targeted mosques and Muslim community organizations for intelligence gathering. It has pressured law-abiding American Muslims to become informants against their own communities, often in coercive circumstances. It has also stigmatized innocent Muslims by placing them on the No Fly List and other watch lists. In short, the government's domestic counterterrorism policies treat entire minority communities as suspect, and American Muslims have borne the brunt of government suspicion, stigma and abuse.

"These practices hurt not only American Muslims, but all communities that expect law enforcement to serve and protect America's diverse population equally, without discrimination. They strike the bedrock of democracy: that no one should grow up fearful of law enforcement, scared to exercise the rights to freedom of speech, association and worship."

Signatories to the coalition letter include:

Access
American Civil Liberties Union
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
Amnesty International
Arab American Institute
Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus
Brennan Center for Justice
Center for Community Change
Center for Constitutional Rights
Council on American-Islamic Relations
Defending Dissent Foundation
Free Press
Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders
Human Rights Campaign
Human Rights Watch
Interfaith Alliance
Islamic Society of North America
Lambda Legal
Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund
Muslim Advocates
Muslim League Fund of America
Muslim Public Affairs Council
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
Legal Defense Fund
National Center for Lesbian Rights
National Center for Transgender Equality
National Coalition on Black Civic Participation
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
National Immigration Law Center
National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild
National Lawyers Guild
National Network for Arab American Communities
National Religious Campaign Against Torture
National Security Network
National Urban League
New America Foundation's Open Technology Institute
New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good
Partnership for Civil Justice Fund
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund
The Sikh Coalition
South Asian Americans Leading Together
Transgender Law Center
T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries

In its own statement CAIR added:

"The Obama administration continues to allow some government agencies to treat all Americans as objects of suspicion. It is time for a full public accounting regarding surveillance of American minorities. This includes explaining the use of the blatantly prejudiced 'Mohammad Raghead' as a placeholder in a document describing how to properly format surveillance justification."

This past weekend the Washington Post revealed that the vast majority of the information in a cache of NSA intercepted communications contained within the Snowden documents were not from intended surveillance targets. Among the files were "medical records sent from one family member to another, resumes from job hunters and academic transcripts of school children."

Other groups have issued statements independent of the coalition letter:

Access
The NSA revelations continue to shock

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)
ADC Responds to Glenn Greenwald's NSA Revelations

Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR)
NSA Surveillance of Muslim Leader Fits Same Pattern as FBI Spying on MLK, Say Civil Rights Attorneys

Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
EFF Statement on Intercept Article Revealing Surveillance of Muslim Activists

Muslim Advocates (MA)
Statement on Report by Glenn Greenwald on NSA Spying

Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC)
MPAC Condemns New Revelations of NSA, FBI Spying on Muslim Leaders

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.

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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.

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