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Security tips for individuals and Masjids

by Sound Vision Staff Writer

Muslim communities across the US are expecting a backlash once the US-led war on Iraq starts. With the wounds of 911 fresh in their minds, many Muslims are not taking chances. They are preparing for all kinds of harassment and violence.

Here are a list of tips and suggestions we advise all Muslims to take.

Muslim individuals and families

1. Fortify security systems in your home. If you have an alarm system, double check that it is working properly. Make sure all main doors have secure locks on them.
2. Keep doors locked at all times.
3. In the days right after the war starts, avoid sending your children outside to play, especially if they "look" Muslim (i.e. wear Hijab or Kufi and are darker-skinned and thus, "Middle Eastern" looking).
4. Everyone in the home should avoid sitting or sleeping close to windows. This is because if someone wants to throw something through the window, family members will be hurt by the weapon and the shattered glass.
5. Practice the fire drill in your home.
6. If you are being attacked or witness someone being attacked, contact 911 immediately. Help the victim if he or she is injured, provide comfort, and file a police report of the incident as soon as possible.
7. If you are verbally harassed, remain calm and patient. Ignore the comments.
8. At work or school, if somebody tries to engage you in provocative arguments and a confrontation, say "Peace" and walk away.
9. During the weekend, remain extra careful. Since people often relax and let loose by drinking, they are more likely to engage in stupid and dangerous behavior. Watch your back and avoid being outside alone, whether you are male or female. Travel in groups and in cars as much as possible.
10. Establish a phone tree system with your neighbors and friends.
11. If a violent incident occurs in your home, make sure to first call 911, then contact the person in your phone tree. Make sure that they call the your relatives, the police and the media.
12. Sisters: if you are single or living alone and you feel threatened, call your local Masjid, the Muslim Students' Association or relatives and stay with a group of people for the next few days. Even commuting should be done in groups. Practice good safety habits.

Muslim institutions (i.e. mosques, Islamic centers and Muslim schools)

1 Form a security committee whose members will patrol the premises for the next week, especially during the evenings.
2. Contact local police and arrange for more security patrols of the areas surrounding the institutions. Remind them that you and your community are more likely to be targets of hatred and violence once the war on Iraq begins.
3. If the police are not responding to your need for extra security, contact the police chief and the mayor and demand the same.
4. Report all incidents of harassment that take place on the premises to the police in person or by fax.
5. Record in a specific notebook or file any threatening phone calls or messages on voice mail. For calls, use your telephone's trace features to try to get the telephone number of the caller.
6. Record all incidents of harassment that occur in your Masjid, center or school. Write it all down in detail, providing the who, what, when, where and why of the incident. Send the completed copy to the following organizations

National ACLU Racial Profiling Hotline: 1 (877) 6-PROFILE
Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) (fill out their incident report at www.cair-net.org/ireport)
American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. Call (202) 244-2990 or e-mail: legal@adc.org
U.S. Commission on Civil Rights(800) 552-6843

7. Make sure that no member of your Masjid, center, school or MSA is left to go home alone. Arrange for escorts and whenever possible, arrange for Muslims, male or female, to travel in groups.
8. For Juma prayers at Masjids and Islamic centers, have extra security ready. Have police at the door, checking who is coming and going. Also, make sure that the building's parking lot is closely guarded too. Watch out for any suspicious vehicles.

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