CAIR-Chicago recognized the need to address the recent arrest of a Chicagoland teenager accused of wanting to travel to join ISIS in its larger community repercussions. Over the past several weeks CAIR-Chicago has collaborated with communities across Chicagoland to foster dialogue about the many issues surrounding the incident ranging from countering extremist ideologies and ISIS specifically, FBI questioning, know your civil rights, online predators, Islamophobia and media issues.
CAIR-Chicago’s Executive Director Ahmed Rehab and Staff Attorney Rabya Khan have been giving presentations throughout the greater Chicagoland area – to students, teachers, and parents – informing communities about their rights and what to expect from media and law enforcement, as well as reiterate how important open conversation are within Muslim communities and their families. Deputy Director Sufyan Sohel has met with several community leaders and law enforcement officials to discuss the threat of extremism and to discuss positive community solutions.
After the arrest of the student, CAIR-Chicago (Rehab and Khan) addressed the area’s Islamic high school’s entire student body in a special assembly that included an open session for questions and answers. They also met separately with the school’s Principal and Chairman. Similar outreach has continued in presentations at mosques including those in Bolingbrook and Wheaton. Informing students, parents, and community members on their rights, Khan does full “know your rights” awareness presentations covering what to do and not do if contacted by the FBI. Rehab covers topics including ISIS, Islamic morality, Jihad, the internet, and self-empowerment. All events encourage lively and honest question and answer sessions.
This past Friday, October 24, CAIR-Chicago presented in a panel discussion at the Islamic Foundation in Villa Park. It was part of an ongoing educational series organized by CIOGC about online radicalization. “The problem is in extremism,” Rehab explained. “And extremism itself is a religion – whether it is anti-Muslim extremists, fighting against Muslims and Islam, or Muslim extremists from within fighting against Muslims or others. That basic mentality and methodology is the same and that lager scope has increasingly become the issue for me. Rather than Islamophobia as its own book – it became a chapter in a larger book called extremism, a book that includes chapters about warped extremist ideologies emanating from Muslims.”
CAIR-Chicago has also handled the public side of the story with the media, fielding a dozen media requests, writing to editors, and helping to pull the plug on several problematic story angles that would have caste unfounded aspersions on the community. CAIR-Chicago ensures that the community’s anti-extremism stance is represented in the media while also ensuring that the media does not harass the Muslim community or embrace Islamophobic narratives. CAIR-Chicago stands firmly against misguided narratives that assume collective guilt or community culpability for an individual criminal case.
Any community members contacted by the media or the FBI should contact CAIR-Chicago immediately.