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A controversial Islamic lobby group has issued a “travel advisory” for Muslim U.S. citizens attending a conference in Canada this weekend or participating in the upcoming pilgrimage to Mecca.
The Washington, D.C.-based Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, says it’s concerned the travelers will be “singled out by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials for special security checks and fingerprinting based solely on their attendance at both religious events.”
As WorldNetDaily reported, the New York Civil Liberties Union is in court to stop the Department of Homeland Security from detaining interrogating, fingerprinting and photographing American citizens at the border because they attended the Reviving the Islamic Spirit conference in Toronto in December 2004. This year’s conference begins Friday.
Federal officials argue such conferences have been used to provide cover for pro-terrorist operatives.
CAIR itself is a spin-off of the Islamic Association for Palestine, identified by two former FBI counterterrorism chiefs as a “front group” for Hamas. Several CAIR leaders have been convicted on terror-related charges.
The pilgrimage, or Hajj, will take place in the second week of January. About 10,000 American Muslims take the journey each year in fulfillment of one of Islam’s “five pillars.”
CAIR created a “Civil Rights Hotline” and a downloadable border incident report form for Muslims who believe their constitutional rights have been violated by border personnel.
“Americans of all faiths should be free to travel without fear of being singled out based solely on their religious practices or associations,” said Arsalan Iftikhar, legal director for CAIR.
Iftikhar said CAIR is asking travelers to the conference and participants in the Hajj to download the incident report form and “keep it handy for the return trip to the United States.”
The conference, held annually in Toronto since 2003, is billed as promoting a strong message of building friendships and alliances between Muslim and non-Muslim communities. This year, Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin is expected to give a speech.
But as WND reported, conference has featured controversial Muslim speakers and attendees, and U.S. officials say such events have been used in the past to provide cover for pro-terrorist operatives.
The two-day conference in January 2003 advertised Sheik Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais as the main speaker. The previous year, al-Sudais, the chief cleric of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, reportedly prayed to Allah to “terminate” the Jews whom he called “the scum of humanity, the rats of the world, prophet killers … pigs and monkeys.” The sheik also has characterized Jews as “evil,” “evil forefathers,” a “continuum of deceit,” and full of “tyranny” and “treachery.”
The same conference featured Zulfiqar Ali Shah, the former president of the Islamic Circle of North America, an organization linked to Jama’at-I-Islami, a fundamentalist Pakistani group that calls bin Laden the “hero” of the Islamic world and raises millions of dollars for global jihad.
Some writers and commentators, such as Daniel Pipes, a specialist on Islam, have supported the U.S. government policy, arguing it’s a matter of national security. Controlling the border flow, he said, is absolutely necessary and of “paramount importance.”