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Why You Should Never Talk to Law Enforcement Without an Attorney


Please take the time to watch the 3 videos below.

The first video is a presentation by Professor James Duane of the Regent University School of Law, explaining why yo u should never under any circumstances discuss anything with any member of law enforcement without an attorney present.

The second video is from a police officer reaffirming the first video from a law officer’s perspective.

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Finally, the third video is from Muslim Advocates and uses a hypothetical scenario

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Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah

Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.



  1. abu abdAllah Tariq Ahmed

    September 22, 2009 at 4:37 AM

    Bismillah. A lot of people may think that the US government has stopped this method of intimidating Muslims, or that the interviews no longer snare law-abiding Muslims, or that nothing bad could happen from meeting with a government representative without having an attorney present.

    Those people are wrong.

    On the other hand, more Muslim attorneys need to take up their civic duty and volunteer to accompany Muslims into these interviews pro deo or pro bono, ie., fee sabeel Allah. Here in Houston there were at one time only two attorneys who regularly provided this service for free. One is a Muslim who has since joined the US government. The only one left is a non-Muslim who has expressed interest in training Muslim attorneys for free in what they need to know to provide adequate counsel to an interviewee.

    If you are a Muslim attorney in Houston (or know one, or you are willing to travel here) and are interested in getting trained, please contact me soon. I will be setting up a training session, bi’idhnillah, some time in early October according to the availability of our trainer.

  2. Rizak

    September 22, 2009 at 5:29 AM

    The Lodi California case is the perfect example for this. Only a mother knows the pain of losing an innocent son to something like this.

    Never talk without an attorney present, it could mean the difference between freedom and federal prison for 24 years…

  3. Sami

    September 22, 2009 at 8:26 AM

    This is very informative, jazakum allahu khair

  4. Anonymous

    September 22, 2009 at 9:37 AM

    I was approached by the FBI a few months ago. Why me? To this day, I have NO idea. I’ve never done anything illegal or even thought about doing anything illegal (except 2 speeding tickets 3-4 years ago) I ended up just telling them to piss off in more diplomatic terms. I’m now a member of the ACLU :-)

    But, they lied to me. Multiple times. They have no honor or decency. They just want to put innocent people behind bars. I caught them in their nonsense.

  5. Holly Garza

    September 22, 2009 at 11:21 AM

    Salaam alaykum Very Good advice May it serve me as a reminder-Also The Police or “law” WILL change any and everything you say too fit their agenda if they are loosing even if you are on “their” side

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  7. Yasir Qadhi

    September 22, 2009 at 11:51 AM

    I cannot stress how important the message in these videos is.

    From my experiences, it is clear that law enforcement is more interested in appearing to combat terrorism than in actually combating terrorism. Therefore, they have no qualms in prosecuting or otherwise intimidating people, as long as one more number can be added to a statistic. I have said this very clearly to many people working in various branches of the government; some appear to listen and want to change, but most really seem more concerned about their next promotion, which would be expedited by a few more prosecutions.

    If law enforcement had our best interest in mind, we could deal with them the way that they deserve. But until they get their act together, we have no recourse but to use the law against them.

    And while we do criticize these agencies for their excesses, let us not forget that we should be very grateful to Allah that we live in a land where we actually do have recourse to such protection. What other Middle Eastern country exists in which we have the right to tell federal agents to leave and come back with a warrant, where we have the right to remain silent, and where those who are supposed to represent the law are monitored and expected to maintain that law and not abuse it. Many times, I find Muslims living in the West concentrate on the mistakes in the system without realizing its strength. We should point out the mistakes but appreciate and be grateful of the positives, for we have been commanded to ‘…give everyone what is deserved to him.’

    • Alhamdulillah

      September 22, 2009 at 1:32 PM

      Asalamu Alaykum,

      [‘…give everyone what is deserved to him.’]

      Shaykh Yasir, Is this a hadith? I don’t know that I have ever heard it before and would like to know it in full. Jazak’Allah khayr, and also to the poster for posting this.

      Asalamu Alaykum

    • Danish S.

      September 22, 2009 at 2:08 PM

      I could not agree more with Br. Iesa Galloway. I.e., we should not make sweeping generalizations about “all” law enforcement.

      It’s true that there are currently some unfortunate issues with some federal agencies like the FBI and how they are treating Muslims. Let’s keep working on ways to mitigate those and correct them where necessary.

      On the same note, let’s keep things in perspective and as Sh. Yasir correctly pointed out in the second half of his comment. As American Muslims we should be grateful that we live in a society that values freedom and gives us recourse from abuses of any kind from anyone.

      Wallahu alam.

    • Abu Yunus

      October 25, 2009 at 1:19 AM

      We forget that the Patriot Act I and II has in fact annulled a lot of the constitutional rights that were aforetime afforded. A lot maybe written on paper but very less is practicised nowadays. I am not sure if we can get away with challenging police officers and FBI agents these days. As for using the law against them, they will figure out a way to get back at you, even if it be unconstitutionally. Hence, what we must do is speak the truth and put our trust in Allaah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Just make du’a that none of these people visit you in the first place.

      As for the so-called right that we can tell FBI agents to take a hike, it’s not a big deal to me. Believe me, we are a lot safer in many Muslim countries [not all] provided we keep the right company. I am not sure how we can praise a justice system which is quasi-defunct. The evisceration of the the constitution is a reality which most of us can’t deny.

  8. Iesa Galloway

    September 22, 2009 at 1:52 PM

    Asalaam Alaikum,

    As one of the brothers from MM that found and encouraged these videos to become a post, and as a former CAIR Executive Director I have a few important points I would like all of us to consider:

    1) The phrase that should we use if/when confronted by law enforcement in most cases should be “I will be happy to cooperate in the presence of my attorney.” End of story AND should be the END of the conversation until your attorney is present or you retain one.

    2) We should not do to EVERY member of “law enforcement” what the Islamophobes are doing to us – eh-hum sweeping generalizations. Yes, protect yourself but also remember that it is law enforcement that will respond to you if Ahoodobilah, you, your family or your property is assaulted, threatened or endangered in some way. Also remember the many, many different branches of law enforcement (Federal, State, Local) that each have different missions, cultures and goals.

    3) We should not let our fears (and even our realities) of being singled out, receiving “special treatment” and other forms of “flying while Muslim” shape our interactions with others too negatively. (The Guantanamo guard who became Muslim said repeatedly how he was initially touched by Islam through the composure and deep faith of the detainees) so if we can use the hardship as both an opportunity to get closer to Allah and to give dawah then truly “everything in the life of a believer benefits him.”

    4) Br. Tariq Ahmed above mentions the Muslim & former ACLU attorney who has now “has joined the US Government” and his former partner who still conducts free FBI interviews. Two things should be noted here: a) not only are the resources there for those that need it, but b) the fact that a very strong civil libertarian has accepted a government position demonstrates that the system has some merit…

    In short, let us not become a prisoner of fear, let us be vigilant in protecting our freedom and our communities safety. Our engagement will in many ways define our realities… insha’Allah let us tie the camel.

    • abu abdAllah Tariq Ahmed

      September 24, 2009 at 3:51 PM

      “former Muslim & ACLU attorney” — former Muslim? former ACLU? former… I’m not convinced that his joining the government is an endorsement of any merit in the system. We can pray that he and other people at the government who know the value of civil liberties will reduce the oppressiveness of the system for all.

      In the meantime, no one should expect anything good from an agent at the door or on the phone. Have no doubt at all that the government thinks it has been more than fair to every Muslim whom we would say has been unjustly prosecuted. Dr. Ali at-Timimi? Fair trial. Dr. Aafia Siddiqui? Fairly detained, and awaiting a fair trial. How many more names can we bring? All of them fairly dealt with, or awaiting the outcome of fair appeals.

      Fair? Since 2001, fair is at best a murky shade of gray.

      ps., Maybe we need to expand readership among Houston attorneys. I have not heard from a single attorney here who wants the training.

      • Iesa Galloway

        September 24, 2009 at 10:22 PM

        AA Br. Tariq,

        Thanks for catching my mistake on the placement of the word “former” it is corrected now…
        The brother, who is still a Muslim, Humdulilah!, and is a good friend was a former ACLU board member as he gave that up to join the government as a district attorney.

        I worked closely with the brother for over 3 years and witnessed his evolution in regards to working to secure civil liberties and I can tell you his actions have been rooted in working in the system to improve the quality of life for all of us, citizen, non-citizen, resident or visitor and Muslim or non-Muslim.

        With that said I have to take you to task on your comment above: “Have no doubt at all that the government thinks it has been more than fair to every Muslim whom we would say has been unjustly prosecuted.”

        1) The government does not “think” as it is not an entity but a collection of agencies and individuals. Short of a resolution or official policy statement we have no way of quantifying a government position and even with policy and resolutions there is ALWAYS dissent from within the government and often the dissent leads to better policy.

        2) Knowing your rights is the first step to protection, but lasting protection is in the policy realm.
        a) policy changes will only happen through engagement, political will and proactive solution driven effort.

        I am disappointed in your comment because it is the US Government via the constitution and case precedent that allows for the civil liberties we enjoy and need to preserve/strengthen.

        We should differentiate between the poorly educated officers, the law enforcement executed with an agenda and the unprofessional, bad apples from the professional officers that do exist. We should also not confuse the individuals (law enforcement personalities) with the system that allows us to address wrongs.

        No one is claiming the system is prefect, not even claiming it is fair… however, our duty is to be just and promote justice, which is hard to do if you live in a reactionary and paranoid world view.

        If we want to be taken seriously in policy (what guides the: who, when, where and how of government agents’ action) then we have to use responsible, measured and factual (not emotional) language that demonstrates our frustration, issues and plight in a way which will encourage traction.

        In other words, the only thing that we can control is our own actions and reactions.

        How much of our community’s problems are due to our lack of engagement, lack of dawah and our own isolationism, especially BEFORE 9/11?

        Simply, I’d like to see us encourage the good and forbid the evil effectively rather than simply blow off steam in our own sweeping indictments.

        With each Kangaroo Court outcome we should be multiplying our efforts to strengthen organizations like the Muslim Legal Fund of America (MLFA), Muslim Advocates, and others while building alliances with civil liberty activists to make our country a better and safer place.

        To recap, know your rights, exercise your rights and resist fear.

        • abu abdAllah Tariq Ahmed

          September 25, 2009 at 4:32 AM

          Akhi, you know I love you for the sake of Allah. And I am glad that you know that brother well and can attest for him and his motives, alhamdolillah. That’s great. All I intended is to withhold my judgment in either direction.

          As for the starkness of my advice to all Muslims reading this blog, perhaps you should remember the topic of this article and consider that my tone is appropriate to the unequivocal message that needs to get across. Look for comments and articles I have submitted to MM when the danger to Muslims was not front and center, and you will see that you only remind me about what I know well.

          When the lives of Muslims can be destroyed by conversations with agents, words taken out of context, words that are used only to construe or fabricate guilt rather than to seek truth — when the government has demonstrated not once but consistently over the course of some 8 years that it will abuse the confidence of Muslims at the drop of a hat, then there should be no doubt about the message Muslims should receive.

          I will not ask Muslims at this time to remember some warm glow of gratitude for living in America because it is precisely that love and security that will be taken advantage of by agents of the government as they rush to fabricate a case against the next Dr. Ali At-Timimi.

          As for the “government thinks,” if you seriously object to that language, chalk it up to being an attorney. It is the government that brings a case against a Muslim, that objects in court, etc.

          • Iesa Galloway

            September 25, 2009 at 12:03 PM

            Dear Br. Tariq, this boils down to a difference in experiences.

            From my time presenting know your rights lectures, facilitating resources for FBI interviews and helping our community members find attorneys, organizations and other resources to protect their rights it became VERY clear to me that it is exactly when people receive the know your rights education and they learn about the extent of the abuses that have and do continue to happen (the examples given for them to learn their rights) that the dis-empowerment begins.

            I originally wanted to save this video for a post, but to see what I am speaking about check out the following video of Cynthia McKinney speaking to the National Black United Front – Houston. It seems to me that this is a Novocain session designed to reinforce the dependency for a “movement” on a dis-empowered segment of the black community that will ultimately lead them to many more militant sit down discussions that do not accomplish any goals. (Especially listen to 6:30 forward and notice the “guard” at the window and the “fatigue’ish” clothing).

            The inculcating of a victimized and oppressed world view is not only self-fulfilling but I’d argue that it is against our understanding of Allah’s attributes and His Abilities and Dominion. (Not accusing you of this, just saying that it can happen if we allow fear to shape our world view)

            More simplistically it is letting the “agents” (by the way did you notice that in your reply you attributed all the negatives to individuals?) gain a major victory over us as we learn our rights… it is on a nearly subliminal level by excepting that we are a second class population/citizens. In communications terms the equivalent would be to accept someone else’s narrative frame on an issue that you are the subject matter expert on.

            You can successfully and unequivocally send the message to protect yourself without these and other negative side effects.

            Back to the “agents or the individuals acting on behalf of the “government.” Much of what I wrote was for our readers more than for you directly… I firmly believe that our community needs to put more resources into the policy work, rather than continually to only focusing on running in the hamster treadmill of case by case reactionary effort.

            You got me on your use of “government” it is classic movie prosecutor language :) I would say remember your audience though. As Frank Luntz says: “It is not what you say that matters, it is what people hear.” – This advice is to me first!

            BTW – I did know and it is returned for Allah’s sake as well. May we meet in His Shade on the Day where there is no shade but Allah’s! – Or better yet in Firdos! Ameen

  9. D.D.

    September 22, 2009 at 2:02 PM

    Informative post. A perfectly legal way to see what exactly the feds have on you is to request it via the Freedom of Information Act. Of course, ultimately they can decide what or what not to tell you but it would do no harm to ask.

  10. Danish Hasan

    September 22, 2009 at 3:50 PM

    he said the top ten reasons are really 8, ended up only doing 7….

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  12. muslim

    September 22, 2009 at 10:17 PM

    Does this apply to Canada as well? Could someone who knows the canadian law please talk about how to deal with CSIS.

  13. Faiez

    September 22, 2009 at 11:54 PM

    I’ll keep this in mind if I ever get pulled over for speeding

  14. QasYm

    September 23, 2009 at 9:21 AM

    Here’s what I have always been taught. If they show up to your house. Just say “Yes” “No” “Can I go?”

    The first thing they’re going to ask is “Are you Fulaan” say “Yes”
    The next thing they ask is “Can we come in?” ALWAYS say “No”
    And then they will try to force you to make some sort of decision/commitment to meet them etc. Just say “Can I go?”

    Take a business card and close the door and have your attorney or local CAIR representative notified.

  15. mirele

    September 23, 2009 at 1:14 PM

    As an ex-attorney (I investigate technical failures now, and am much happier), I can only second what has been said above. Particularly pay attention to what Shaykh Yasir Qadhi has said. I myself would not go into a meeting with law enforcement without an attorney, even though I trained as one. You need an advocate WITH you when you go in to talk to these people, someone who can listen, interject and say, “No, my client won’t be answering that question right now.”

    Thing is, I would recommend this to ANYONE, Muslim or non-Muslim. Then again, I live in Maricopa County, the stomping ground of the notorious Sheriff Joe. Things may be different elsewhere, but I doubt it.

    • shahgul

      September 25, 2009 at 6:41 PM

      What if you can’t pay for a lawyer?

      • abu abdAllah Tariq Ahmed

        September 26, 2009 at 9:22 AM

        That’s why it behooves more Muslim attorneys to get trained in counseling Muslims in these situations. And to volunteer to accompany Muslims at no cost in the event that the agents insist on a meeting.

        It is my intention now that I am licensed in Houston to get trained by the local non-Muslim attorney who has been providing these services. Wherever you are, encourage local Muslim attorneys to get trained, too, and remind them that Allah is the One Who provides them their rizq. They should show their gratitude to Allah for what they have by using their ability as attorneys to represent Muslims.

        The attorney in Houston whose example I intend to follow in this regard, alhamdolillah, he meets in person or on the phone with the Muslim. He follows up with the agent. If a meeting with the agents is necessary, he attends and counsels the Muslim. And all of this is at no charge. He told me personally that the only time a Muslim need worry about fees is if the government chooses to go beyond merely interviewing. And at that time he only proceeds after the details have been worked out with his client. That’s an important thing, too: even though the attorney charges no money, he is obligated to give the Muslim client the exact same confidentiality and quality of service as if he were being paid.

  16. Ahmad AlFarsi

    September 23, 2009 at 1:28 PM

    How about when we are entering the US from an international travel (even from Canada)? That is when, even though I’m a US citizen, I am asked tons of questions about my trip, my religion, where I live, what I do, etc etc etc. Not only that, but they dig through my belongings and make photocopies of every single business card in my wallet, anything written in my notebooks, basically anything with writing on it at all. At the end of the process, they have their very own file on me where they can connect me to anyone I’ve ever done business with.

    It feels at such a time, I have no recourse to a lawyer, and that if I don’t comply, I just won’t be allowed to enter the US. You feel quite intimidated, but you don’t dare say ‘I think this question/action is violating my rights as a citizen’ for fear of not being allowed in.

    Do we have any rights whatsoever during such a process? Or must we simply comply with all the questions/photocopying of personal material? Do the border patrol really have the right to deny a US citizen entry if we do not answer their every last question or allow them to take pictures of our belongings? Does the signed statement on the first page of our passport from the US Secretary of State allowing the holder free passage (in and out of the country) hold any legal weight against such interrogations or photo-takings of belongings?

  17. Solomon2

    September 24, 2009 at 12:33 PM

    Haven’t had time to watch the third, but the first two videos are excellent. Does anyone disagree with me, that we don’t need self-convictions that occur because the memory of the policeman or witness is faulty and conflicts with our own truthful accounts? How many faulty terror convictions have occurred because of this?

    If you need to leave info with the police, you can do it anonymously. The FBI has an anonymous tip site, for example. My local police dept. just opened up a tip line operating out of Canada so anonymity can be preserved.

    Or else work through a lawyer. A good lawyer is a good lawyer, he or she doesn’t have to be Muslim at all. Even the inmates at Guantanamo choose Jewish lawyers to represent them!

  18. abu abdAllah Tariq Ahmed

    September 26, 2009 at 9:57 AM

    Brother Iesa. I think you should read my posts much more carefully. I never encourage any Muslim to fear the government, or hate the government, etc. And I disagree with any characterization of my comments as causing Muslims to feel victimized, etc.

    However, I unapologetically urge Muslims to seek the advice of counsel before engaging in ANY conversations with an agent of the government at their home or office, regardless of whether the questions are personal or about a local masjid or about other Muslims. The reason is that it would be foolish for any Muslim to trust in the good will of a government agent or prosecutor when the plain truth of what happens to Muslims in the justice system speaks for itself.

    Before you reply or call me to protest on behalf of the good virtues of men and women who work for the government, men and women that you, me, and most any Muslim would say are good people striving to do good within their comprehension — before you devote more time to their interests, just ask yourself if ANYTHING in the previous paragraph is remotely untrue or unfair. On the other hand if my words would make any person in the government feel ashamed that an entire population of Americans has good reason to distrust government agents, then that shame is rightly deserved. And I pray that shame brings positive change in the government which continues to permit renditions, continues to operate extraterritorial prisons where human rights are abused, continues to use torture, continues to prosecute Muslims unjustly, continues to deny light and free movement to Muslims-awaiting-trial on the pretext that “Special Administrative Procedures” are not cruel, not unusual, not torture, and EVEN that such barbaric treatment protects and benefits the Muslims so abused by them, and the list of shameful acts by the US government just goes on and on…

    • Iesa Galloway

      September 28, 2009 at 10:30 PM


      About re-reading of comments or posts:

      You replied to my comment which was aimed at telling people to protect themselves and know their rights when/if law enforcement does seek an interview without fearing the system or law enforcement by saying essentially two things:

      1) “…I’m not convinced that his joining the government is an endorsement of any merit in the system… We can pray that he and other people… reduce the oppressiveness of the system for all.”

      2) “…no one should expect anything good from an agent at the door or on the phone. Have no doubt at all that the government thinks it has been more than fair… Fair? Since 2001, fair is at best a murky shade of gray.”

      On the other hand I have made one simple point that has always escaped your replies.

      That is: don’t fear the system, be empowered by it.

      My call to effect policy (being empowered by the system) is a effort beyond only “praying” that someone else’s effort or that “shame” will make a change. It does necessitate learning more about the system than only where it has failed. It is also something that we can do individually or collectively by getting active with or supporting organizations that work on policy. Again that requires us to educate ourselves on the very system and the people in it, if we wish to improve the situation of Muslims and others so that we can be respected and protected.

      Tell me if I am wrong here:

      Your message can be summed up as; the system is out to get you.

      My message was intended to say and I believe is clear is; you can and should improve the system.

      Both stances encourage knowing your rights and exercising them, I believe one is more empowering and one is more dis-empowering.

      Not to belabor the point but it seems to be necessary, if the government is after you or at least is completely untrustworthy on EVERY level then that view requires a degree of fear and paranoia.

      If the government can be shaped by our participation then we are by default empowered and more likely to have the confidence to learn about our rights and use them.

      From experience, I can tell you that many a new immigrant out of fear, NOT necessarily a lack of knowledge has accepted law enforcement interviews AND never reported them hoping not to draw more attention to themselves.

      Often they know they can have a lawyer but choose not to in an effort to give the officers what they want and be done with it. Usually, those people ended up call CAIR or the ACLU after the “friendly” interview requests do not stop but actually increase.

      So yes, my position is do not fear the system or government, understand it.

      Once people know that the FBI, for example is in the business of getting information, and information comes from sources, then they are more likely to use their rights more effectively AND have the benefit of a good attorney who would actually encourage corporation should the situation merit it or as more often is the case end the harassment.

      Lastly, I too disagree with any attempt to color my comments – as making excuses for injustices or to trust in the good will of anyone.

      I simply have been calling for responsible action.

      On that note, I am glad that now that you have passed the TX Bar you have made the intention to get trained by the former ACLU, now US District Attorney’s old partner and I also pray that you are successful in recruiting more lawyers to receive that training.

      I can point you to a few Houston Muslim lawyers who have experience doing these interviews along with a few names of other lawyers who are non-Mulsims.

      Protecting communities from abuse is a multi-leveled effort that requires a) education, b) people on the ground (lawyers offering free interview service), c) policy work and much, much more.

      May Allah unite our hearts and all Muslims in working toward establishing justice. May Allah forgive me and help me to communicate more clearly.


      • MM Associates

        September 29, 2009 at 3:45 PM

        Sadly I note that your replies get longer and longer. As though more words would lend the reply more weight. I summarized my own posts, thank you very much: look at the paragraph in bold print in the post to which you replied. I could not have done more to make it clear what my positions are.

        As for your reply, ameen to this, “May Allah unite our hearts and all Muslims in working toward establishing justice. May Allah forgive me and help me to communicate more clearly.” And for me as well.

        abu abdAllah

        • Iesa Galloway

          September 30, 2009 at 12:02 AM

          This comment is quite telling… dare I say dismissive?

          Hopefully, all our continued comments will – at least – get more people to have a lawyer for law enforcement interviews!

          I am throwning in the towel now :)

          Asalaam Alaikum!


  19. MM Associates

    September 29, 2009 at 3:52 PM

    posted by abu abdAllah

    A sister in this week’s open thread asked about articles from MM about recent alleged-terrorist cases. Here is a link to one article on one case in the NYT:

    I post it here for a reason: the first charges brought against the man? Lying to investigators. “Lying to investigators”? I wonder if he had an attorney when he talked to those investigators…

    Yes, those charges were dismissed by a responsible federal judge. Great! Note that dismissing the charges — rather than letting the man increase his credibility in the public by forcing the government to defend another travesty — freed the man’s schedule up to stand trial in NYC.

    And yes, unless the federal government proves him guilty of a terrorism charge, I will do what the constitution of the United States reminds every citizen to do: I will assume the man is innocent. And yes, even if the government tries him five or six times until it finally shows enough pictures of 9-11 to beat-up a jury into giving it a conviction, even then I will only admit that the government won a case. Not that the man did anything deserving of the government’s abuse. And yes, that’s government-the-monolithic prosecutor and persecutor, if you are keeping score.

  20. Iesa Galloway

    September 29, 2009 at 10:44 PM

    Muslim Lawyers Issue Urgent Community Advisory

    American Muslims are committed to preserving the safety and security of our country and support the full and fair investigation and prosecution of those who would seek to bring us harm. However, Muslim Advocates, the National Association of Muslim Lawyers (NAML) and local Muslim bar associations across the country strongly urge individuals not to speak with law enforcement officials without the presence or advice of an attorney. Despite the characterization that contact with law enforcement is voluntary and discretionary, information provided — or omitted — during any such interview can become the basis for further investigation or prosecution and have immigration implications.

    We highly recommend that attorneys and community leaders share a short, 15-min. “know your rights” video, produced by lawyers with Muslim Advocates, with their mosques, family and friends. The video provides crucial information about how to handle contact from law enforcement officials. The video is available in five languages – Arabic, Urdu, Farsi, Somali and English. Click here to view the video online. (SAME VIDEO AS ABOVE)

    Key tips to keep in mind:

    * There is no legal obligation to speak to law enforcement officials. You are only required to provide identification to law enforcement officials if asked and immigrants are required to carry proof of immigration status at all times. Declining to speak cannot be presumed as guilt.

    * Any statements made during an interview can be used against you at a later time. Lying to a federal officer, even by omission, is a crime.

    * If approached by the FBI or law enforcement, ask for their business cards and say that your lawyer will contact them.

    For more information, or for assistance locating an attorney in your area, please visit or contact Nura Maznavi. ( 415-692-1484.

    Muslim Advocates
    National Association of Muslim Lawyers
    Capital Area Muslim Bar Association
    Florida Muslim Bar Association
    Georgia Association of Muslim Lawyers
    Michigan Muslim Bar Association
    Muslim Bar Association of Illinois
    Muslim Bar Association of New York
    Muslim Bar Association of Southern California
    Muslim Lawyers of Houston
    New England Muslim Bar Association
    New Jersey Muslim Lawyers Association

    Muslim Advocates is a national legal advocacy and educational organization dedicated to promoting freedom, justice and equality for all, regardless of faith, by using the tools of policy engagement, legal advocacy and civic education and by serving as a legal resource to promote the full participation of Muslims in American civic life. Muslim Advocates is 501 (c)(3) charitable, tax-exempt nonprofit entity.

  21. Abu Noor Al-Irlandee

    October 6, 2009 at 5:20 PM

    Excellent article on one specific example which gives insight on the common practice of the FBI, find vulnerable people and coerce them into doing what you want without any regard at all for either the best interests of those people who are innocent of any crimes nor of the Muslim community at large.

  22. Abu Noor Al-Irlandee

    October 6, 2009 at 5:24 PM

    By the way, in the above exchange between Iesa and Tariq, I think Tariq is much closer to your position than you seem to realize Iesa.

    I think it’s someone like myself who actually holds the view that you seem to attribute to Tariq although I’m not sure he actually holds it. (That the whole system is untrustworthy and out to get you — I don’t think the system is out to get every individual but I pretty much think you should assume that they are and act accordingly).

    My advice is not only Don’t talk to Law Enforcement without an attorney, which I think we all agree on, but (in general and you can discuss possible exceptions with your attorney) don’t talk to law enforcement wih an attorney either!

    Allaah Knows best.

  23. Furutan

    May 27, 2010 at 5:26 PM

    The police officer in the second video told things the way they are in Florida. It doesn’t roll the same way in Chicago, both pro and con. I was on a jury in a drug case in which multiple officers testified, including a lab guy who testified to the quality of the drugs seized. There were several civilian winesses to the man’s guilt.

    The defendant was latino. The jury was evenly divided between whites, blacks, and Latinos. The predisposition of the jurors was sharply defined by race from the first minute of its deliberations. The whites assumed he was guilty. The latinos thought he was innocent. The blacks though he might be guilty but they did not trust police to tell the truth, so they were neutral but very suspicious. In the end the fellow was released. Why? Because the police did not have a video tape of the act – something that happened right on the street in plain view.

    It should be mentioned that if the fellow were a “foreigner” (even though he might be a citizen), chances are that he would have been convicted.

    Regarding the statements of the officer in the second video – just because a jury in Florida will accept the statement of police officer as patently true, this is not true everywhere.

    As for prejudice against people with Muslim or “non western” background, it is a shameful fact is that the prejudice is extremely widespread and is markedly worse than it ever was for blacks, latinos or any other group because the only time the average working class white American is exposed to Musims is when they are watching news reports about extremists.

    What should be done? Do everything you can to expose your community to your culture. Hold art and music fairs, block parties, create small educational endowments based on community service or achievement that are open to prospective recipients of all backgrounds and cultures, adopt a highway as a community service project and have the name of your Mosque on the adopt a highway sign, make yourselves known for who you are and what your culture represents, put yourselves in a situation where the anglo saxon community will come to your defense. Most of all, do not isolate yourselves.

    There is a lesson to be learned from Nazi Germany. The cultural group that kept to itself, that did not share its culture, that did not become active and crucially important members of the community at large – they were the ones who people looked upon with suspicion and who did not come to their aid when the oppression began.

    I am not a Muslim but I would gladly give my life in the defense of anyone who is the victim of persecution. There are millions out there just like me. What is needed is to build bonds between our communities so that when difficulties arise we can all unite in the cause of justice.

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