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Muslim Americans and US law enforcement: not enemies, but vital partners

But first, both Muslim Americans and law enforcement have to change the way they interact.

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The stigma on Muslim Americans worsened in 2009. The latest events, including arrests of the Newburgh Four in New York, Michael Finton in Illinois, and Hossam Smadi in Texas; then the Fort Hood, Texas, massacre by Nidal Malik Hasan; and most recently the arrest in Pakistan of five young Muslim men from Virginia attempting to join a militant group there have only added to difficulties.

Each of these events was unique. The first three involved the questionable use of FBI informants, one case involved a man going on a violent rampage, and another involved youth seeking violent adventures abroad.

Yet, at a time when terrorism remains a challenge to US national security, these events feed into the false and dangerous fear that Muslim Americans cannot be trusted.

America can’t afford that.

The US must identify and apprehend terrorists while avoiding the alienation of its mainstream Muslim communities. And it is critical that tactics used by law enforcement agencies to achieve the first goal do not undermine the second, as it is not only contrary to the values of a free and democratic society, it creates counterproductive counterterrorism.

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