Muslim civil rights group distributes checklist of mosque safety measures
WASHINGTON, Aug. 17, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A prominent national Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization today said that in light of recent hate incidents targeting American Muslims, it is asking mosques and Islamic institutions nationwide to step up security for the upcoming end-of Ramadan holiday prayers.
The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) also offered a checklist of safety measures the houses of worship should take.
CAIR issued its call for increased security following incidents such as this morning's report of the desecration of graves at a cemetery in Illinois and similar cases of hate vandalism and violence targeting Muslims around the nation.
Video: Muslim Graves in Illinois Desecrated with Hate Graffiti (CAIR)
Photos of Hate Graffiti on Graves
To help boost safety at community events, CAIR is distributing a checklist of "Community Safety and Security Tips." CAIR's tips include immediately reporting suspicious people or activities, posting emergency contact information and facility floor plans in public areas, meeting with local police to seek safety advice, monitoring those who enter public events, and taking advantage of resources offered by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). [NOTE: CAIR's safety checklist is also relevant to other houses of worship such as Sikh gurdwaras.]
SEE: CAIR Community Safety and Security Tips
CAIR said American Muslims will gather at Ramadan celebrations and prayers in cities and towns this weekend. (Ramadan is the month on the Islamic lunar calendar during which Muslims abstain from food, drink and other sensual pleasures from break of dawn to sunset.)
The prayers mark the beginning of the Eid ul-Fitr (EED-al-FITTER), or "feast of fast breaking" holiday, in which Muslims exchange social visits and take part in community activities such as bazaars and children's fairs.
CAIR: U.S. Muslims to Mark End of Ramadan with Prayers
CAIR: Muslims Brace for Tense Holiday
In a statement, CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said:
"In light of the numerous recent incidents of hate attacks on American Muslims and their institutions and houses of worship, it is only prudent to take reasonable measures to ensure the safety and security of those who will be celebrating this weekend. We particularly ask imams and mosque leaders to request a local law enforcement presence in the vicinity of any public prayers or gatherings. This request is made out of an abundance of caution given recent events."
Awad noted that the past few days alone, violent incidents in Illinois included a shooting at a mosque in Morton Grove and an acid bomb thrown at an Islamic school in Lombard. In other states, a mosque was burned to the ground in Joplin, Mo., vandals sprayed an Oklahoma mosque with paintballs, pigs legs were thrown at a mosque-site in California, and a firebomb was thrown at a Muslim family's home in Panama City, Fla.
Video: CAIR News Update
Eight Attacks, 11 Days (Salon)
Video: Firebomb Thrown at Florida Muslim Family's Home (CAIR)
CAIR-St. Louis: Interfaith Leaders Support Joplin Mosque (Video)
Video: CAIR-LA Asks DOJ to Launch Probe of Pig Legs Left at Mosque Site
Video: Vandals Shoot Paintballs at OKC Mosque
CAIR-Chicago: Islamic Groups Alarmed by Suburban Incidents
CAIR: Arson, Vandalism at Mosques Not Uncommon (Joplin Globe)
In the worst incident, six Sikhs were gunned down by a white supremacist in Wisconsin.
Last week, CAIR's national headquarters issued a community safety advisory for American mosques following the incidents targeting Muslim houses of worship in Missouri and Rhode Island and after the deadly shooting attack on the Sikh temple.
SEE: CAIR Issues Safety Advisory After Another Mosque Targeted
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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CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
SOURCE Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)