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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Adding up mosque-counting

Calling it "religious profiling of the worst kind," the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a national Muslim civil rights group, asked the Justice Department to stop counting mosques as part of its demographic information. Nihad Awad, CAIR executive director, said the FBI policy "makes as much sense as counting Catholic churches in America in order to initiate an investigation of the mafia."

In January, FBI Director Robert Mueller told field supervisors to fill out a demographic questionnaire that asks for the number of local mosques under a section labeled "vulnerability."

U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich.; Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y.; and Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis., wrote to Attorney Gen. John Ashcroft, saying they stood behind FBI efforts to find terrorist "sleeper cells," but counting mosques was "what seems to be an unconstitutional abuse of power." The congressmen said Muslim community or religious institutions should not be profiled "without any suspicion or cause" to investigate whether they are engaging in terrorist activities.

FBI spokesman Bill Carter told the Washington Times (Feb. 7) that the agency wasn't counting mosques to investigate terrorism. He said mosques were listed as vulnerabilities because they can be targets for hate crimes.


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