Experts Discuss Impact of Hate & Safety Tips on MPAC Teleconferences

August 16, 2012

Last night and today, MPAC hosted two teleconferences for American Muslims around the country to understand the real world damage caused by recent hate rhetoric and learn what they can do to safeguard their mosques, schools and communities.

Last night’s teleconference, attended by more than 50 people, was a national virtual town-hall on “The Real World Impact of Hate Rhetoric in America." The 60-minute teleconference featured Heidi Beirich, Intelligence Project Director of the Southern Poverty Law Center; Wajahat Ali, the co-author of the Center for American Progress’ “Fear, Inc.: The Roots of the Islamphobia Network in America”; and MPAC President Salam Al-Marayati, who shared data and analysis of recent irresponsible smears against American Muslims by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and other public officials.

Ali broke down the state of hate in America by the numbers:

Anti-Muslim hate groups have increased 300 percent in the last year. The FBI has reported a 50 percent increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes. More than 40 percent of non-Muslims say they don’t want Muslims as their neighbors, one-third say they don’t want Muslims on the Supreme Court and a similar number don’t want a Muslim in the Oval office,” Ali said. “So perhaps it is now time we turn the tables and expose the enablers and disseminators of divisive fear-mongering rhetoric that has no place in today’s fragile and racially sensitive environment.”

Al-Marayati described how Islamophobia has become an American problem, not just a Muslim problem.

“It’s not just Muslims who have to deal with these nut cases now, but all Americans have to,” he said. “These groups are attacking anyone perceived to be Muslim or perceived to be supporting Muslims, and unfortunately, we only get silence from our political leadership to the hate-mongering rhetoric.”

This afternoon, MPAC’s second teleconference for mosque and school leaders was with Eric Treene, Special Counsel for Religious Discrimination in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice; Mazen Basrawi, Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the Department of Justice; Haroon Azar, Department of Homeland Security Regional Director for Strategic Engagement; and Deputy Chief Mike Downing of the Los Angeles Police Department.

Attended by more than 30 Muslim leaders from across the country, the call focused on how to protect mosques and homes against attacks.

Treene stressed the importance of reporting anything that suggests an attack is imminent so authorities can stop it in its tracks, adding that the Department of Justice has the authority to prosecute hate crimes at the federal level.

To protect your Islamic Center or house of worship, here are some safety measures the speakers shared:

  • Do not publish floor plans and multiple exterior pictures on their websites
  • Ask the local police or the Department of Homeland Security to inspect facilities for possible threats
  • Contact local police authorities before big gatherings to request police presence
  • Establish a relationship with local police authorities before the need arises
  • Apply grants for a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant to get money to protect of places of worship.

MPAC highly recommends reviewing safety tips for houses of worship provided by CAIR, the Muslim American Homeland Security Congress, and the Anti-Defamation League.

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