In the wake of a planned armed protest outside the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix aimed to coincide when families convene for prayers, Muslim Advocates has asked the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate the rally as a violation of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, also known as the FACE Act, which prohibits threats of force to intimidate or interfere with persons lawfully exercising their right to religious freedom at a place of worship. The statute was enacted by Congress to protect Americans from exactly the kind of activity being carried out by the biker gang. In addition, Muslim Advocates is requesting that federal civil rights investigators and prosecutors be present onsite to observe the armed protest first-hand.
Two weeks earlier, the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix was forced to cancel its regular program when the same biker gang protested with guns outside the mosque during a time when young children attend religious classes. Community leaders are again urging worshippers to stay away from the mosque this evening.
“We are in a crisis situation and the U.S. Attorney General needs to step in and take action to protect the Phoenix Muslim community,” said Farhana Khera, executive director of Muslim Advocates. “In just the last few months, there have been a spate of murders and violent assaults against American Muslims across the nation that have been fueled by hate. No American should live in fear because an armed gang continues to target his or her community, and the government needs to protect the rights of these citizens and of all Americans simply exercising their right to practice their religion.”
- To read a PDF of the full letter, please click here.
Photo Credit: Ross D. Franklin/AP