Washington, D.C. – Following the release of documents detailing the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s “mosque outreach” program in northern California, Interfaith Alliance called for an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Inspector General. The documents show how the FBI appeared to target American Muslims for secret intelligence gathering based solely upon their religion and with no suspicion of wrongdoing. The documents also indicate that while hate crime prevention was the FBI’s entry point, the information gathered was instead filed and classified through the FBI’s authority to conduct national security-related activities. Interfaith Alliance President Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy issued the following statement in response to the disclosure of the documents:
The revelation that the FBI has gathered and recorded intelligence on American Muslims based solely on their religion, under the pretense of community outreach programs, is a huge betrayal of the trust that all Americans – the Muslim community in particular – put in their government. The classification of First Amendment-protected details about individuals’ religious practices as national security intelligence unnecessarily – and potentially dangerously – feeds suspicion of American Muslims and is an affront to the freedom of religion and association paramount in our nation.
Just last month, I had the privilege of meeting with FBI Director Mueller and was encouraged by his candor and commitment to improving FBI trainings that have mischaracterized American Muslims. But it is clear that there are additional serious issues with FBI operations that still need to be addressed. The Department of Justice’s Inspector General should initiate a thorough investigation. Such duplicitous and unfounded practices must cease for the sake of our First Amendment and our security.
These documents were acquired through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Northern California, the Asian Law Caucus and the San Francisco Bay Guardian.
Interfaith Alliance is a network of people of diverse faiths and beliefs from across the country working together to build a resilient democracy and fulfill America’s promise of religious freedom and civil rights not just for some, but for all. We mobilize powerful coalitions to challenge Christian nationalism and religious extremism, while fostering a better understanding of the healthy boundaries between religion and government. We advocate at all levels of government for an equitable and just America where the freedoms of belief and religious practice are protected, and where all persons are treated with dignity and have the opportunity to thrive. For more information visit interfaithalliance.org.