Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Muslim advocacy group criticizes FBI for questioning of 5 SoCal Muslims

June 21, 2010 |  3:53 pm

A national Muslim advocacy organization Monday criticized the actions of the FBI, saying agents unjustifiably questioned five Southern California Muslims last week.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations said the men were among a group detained last December by police in Henderson, Nev., after they stopped at a parking lot to pray during a road trip. The organization had filed a complaint with the Henderson Police Department at the time.

According to the advocacy organization, one of the men who was questioned was shown a book with information on war tactics and was told that Henderson police had seen similar books in the car during the stop in Nevada.

"These young men continue to be penalized for practicing their 1st Amendment rights," said Ameena Qazi, an attorney representing the men. "The agents said they were following up on a specific lead … however, based on all of our information, there were no books in the car. Basically the agents are on a wild goose chase."

Organization officials say the incident is one of many examples of FBI harassment of members of the Muslim community in recent years.

The FBI confirmed Monday that the men were questioned, saying the interviews were routine after reports of suspicious activity.

"The men who were interviewed were cooperative with agents," said FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller in a statement. "The men were not arrested but were interviewed without incident. None of the men have been accused of wrongdoing."

-- Robert Faturechi