Muslims living in at least eight different states, including Texas and Florida, reported to the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) that they were interrogated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for their possible terrorism links over the weekend. According to CBS, federal officials claimed that al-Qaeda was planning an attack on Monday, the day before the election.
Hassan Shibly, civil rights lawyer and executive director of CAIR’s Florida chapter, told The Washington Post that it appeared that only Muslims of Pakistani and Afghan heritage were questioned over the weekend in Florida.
According to Shibly, his clients were interrogated by FBI agents over several security concerns, namely the recently reported al-Qaeda threats to the United States in the days before Election Day.
Shibly’s clients were asked whether or not they personally knew anyone who was planning to harm Americans either domestically or internationally and if they knew any of the al-Qaeda leaders who were killed last month in the U.S. military strikes.
Shibly reportedly said, “The FBI actions… to conduct a sweep of American Muslim leaders the weekend before the election is completely outrageous and… borderline unconstitutional. That’s the equivalent of the FBI visiting churchgoing Christians because someone overseas was threatening to blow up an abortion clinic. It’s that preposterous and outrageous.”
In North Texas, a CAIR community leader reported that Muslims in the area were also questioned by FBI officials.
The FBI is knocking on Muslim's doors this weekend. Do you know what to do? Hint: it does not include inviting them in for tea & cookies pic.twitter.com/MHB5NnX2jr— Alia Salem (@aliarsalem) November 6, 2016
“It was made apparent to us that the FBI has a list of a couple hundred people they are wanting to visit and ask a series of eight generic questions intended to drum up information about the attacks,” said Alia Salem, the North Texas director of CAIR.
While increased security measures may seem appropriate, the FBI “sweep” of questioning Muslims over a possible threat only adds to the hostile environment which the community faces.
Both presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton view the American Muslim population as a tool for providing information about terrorism. Clinton said, “They’re on the front lines. They can provide information to us that we might not get anywhere else.”
This xenophobic rhetoric pins Muslims with an unfair stereotype that they are inextricably linked to national security. The questioning over the weekend likely stirred more fear among the Muslims living in the U.S. regarding what’s at stake this election.
Banner photo: Twitter, @aliarsalem