We can all share horror stories of harassment and abuse as a community. But they won't do us any good if law enforcement officials and politicians never hear about the cases. The more cases we document, the stronger case we will have to prove that Muslims have endured harassment in the wake of war on Iraq and that something needs to be done to stop the abuse.
While reporting is important, it can't be done in a haphazard fashion. It has to be done carefully. Here are some tips that can help:
Write down the who, what, when, where and why of the incident. Be precise, get names, exact locations, time, etc. Note down what, if anything was said during the attack (i.e. "you &*^%$#$ camel jockey", etc.).
This should be your first stop right after the incident. Give them the details of what happened, and if necessary, especially if the attack occurred in or near your home, arrange for extra security with them. They will ask a lot of questions, so if you have something written up beforehand and the details clear in your head, it will make their job easier.
There have been a number of hotlines set up specifically to register incidents of racism, intolerance, etc. It is important to call them and report your incident so that they can document the case and report it to their agencies. Here are a couple:
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (UCCR) 800-552-6843
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) National Hotline 1-877-6-PROFILE
This is important because these organizations need the incident information to make the case on behalf of their members that discrimination is happening, along with the details of how it's occurring. Two of the most important in this regard are:
- Answer the 5Ws
- Report the incident to the local police
- Report the incident to government and national organizations
- Report the incident to Muslim organizations and those representing minorities
- Keep an incident report for your own files
Don't forget to keep a copy of all incident reports you've filed along with the dates that you called or registered your complaint with each organization.