ACLU of Illinois Launches Hotline for Muslims & Arab-Americans Unfairly Targeted by Law Enforcement

Affiliate: ACLU of Illinois
September 27, 2001 12:00 am

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ACLU of Illinois Launches Hotline for Muslims & Arab-Americans Unfairly Targeted by Law Enforcement

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CHICAGO — The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois today launched a hotline in response to concerns that Muslims and persons of Arab descent may be unfairly targeted for investigation by law enforcement officials investigating the September 11 terrorist attacks. The hotline number is for the reporting of such incidents if and when they occur.

The hotline, (312) 201-9740, will operate from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 P.M., Mondays through Fridays. The ACLU also announced that it intends to work with local Muslim and Arab-American organizations to provide information on constitutional rights.

“We hope that the hotline provides an opportunity to report any instance where someone is unfairly targeted by law enforcement because of their ethnicity or religion,” said Colleen K. Connell, Executive Director of the ACLU of Illinois. “While these are the gravest of times, we must insure that our government adheres to our most basic principles and affords fairness and non-discriminatory treatment to persons in every community.”

Staff attorneys for the ACLU have also compiled a “Know Your Rights” guide for distribution throughout the Muslim and Arab-American community in Illinois. The guide outlines basic constitutional guarantees, including the right to consult with an attorney during police questioning, the necessity of a warrant for law enforcement officials to search one’s home or business, and (if one decides to answer such questions) the importance of answering questions from law enforcement officials truthfully.

In the days since the attacks upon the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Arab-Americans in the Chicago area and across the nation have reported investigative contacts by law enforcement officials.

Although national, state and local political and religious leaders have spoken out to praise the many law-abiding, peaceful Muslims and Arab-Americans who contribute to the success, richness and diversity of our society, the far-flung and aggressive investigation seeking links to the September 11 terrorists has created unease in the Muslin and Arab-American communities.

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