Muslims ‘Rewarded’ for Working for Peace and Interfaith Understanding

OK, as promised, I want to write a little more about the profiling of Muslims and Arabs in the recently released FBI investigation of the Thomas Merton Center in Pittsburgh.

The following is included in the documents:

On November 20, 2002, SA [redacted] photographed TMC leaflet distributors at the Pavilion in Market Square, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. These photographs are being viewed by Pittsburgh IT specialists.

One female leaflet distributor, who appeared to be of Middle Eastern descent, inquired if SA [redacted] was an FBI agent. No other TMC participants appeared to be of Middle Eastern descent.

This situation really exemplifies the problem with racial profiling. Do they really think that would-be terrorists are going to risk leafleting in a public square? Or are all people of ‘Middle Eastern descent’ considered potential terrorists based on their appearance?

These documents also conclude that:

TMC advertises its activities on its webpage.

As a taxpayer, I’m pretty disturbed that someone probably got paid to figure that out. Also, the FBI notes:

On November 24, 2002, TMC coordinated the 8th Annual An-Nass (Humanity) Day at the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh…The purpose of An-nass Day was ‘to bring all people of Pittsburgh together in understanding and respecting each other and also to inform them about Islam and Muslims.’

It also names the Muslim contact person for the event, as well as their telephone number.

What does this teach the Muslim citizens of Pittsburgh? Is the lesson that they shouldn’t hold interfaith dialogue? Or that they will be considered suspect for engaging in any political activity, regardless of its peaceful nature? How does any of this make us safer?

Lisa in Pittsburgh