SHAFAQNA – Muslim community leaders gathered in Astoria, Queens, New York City, to address legal and social issues facing American Muslims in Trump era, discussing travel ban, immigrant rights and mosque operations.
“It’s good to know how to talk to people, especially needier people who might be a victim of entrapment attempts,” Charles Swift, director and counsel at the Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America, told attendants, the Times Ledger reported.”The First Amendment is on life support. What that means is that while you cannot be arrested for most kinds of speech, speech can serve as evidence of your predisposition to commit a crime.”
The Muslim Legal Fund of America hosted the Muslim Nonprofit Leadership Conference all-day Saturday at the IBN SINA Center.
The conference, designed specifically to address legal and social issues facing the Muslim community, was attended by attorneys and experts who gave presentations on various topics related to running mosques and other Muslim nonprofit organizations.
MLFA said that American Muslim community faces many challenges, whether it’s the Muslim ban, immigration delays, watch lists, compliance-related nonprofit revocations or women’s access to mosques.
Lawyers said understanding these challenges is the first step in safeguarding the organizations and the communities they serve.
In his presentation, Swift focused on dealing with informants in the community.
Swift discussed the First Amendment and how to spot and protect oneself, adding that there are limits to free speech and that even an attempt to do something illegal can be considered a conspiracy.
“A conspiracy to agree to do something illegal, even just an attempt is against the law,” he said.
“They can agree with you to do an illegal activity, which would be a conspiracy. To agree to do something illegal is itself illegal. So an informant wouldn’t do anything violent, but they absolutely can help you break the law.
“For instance, people need to know the First Amendment does not prevent speech from being used as evidence. Use common sense, train the vulnerable in your community to use common sense. If someone in the mosque is starting to use violent rhetoric or talk about some sort of criminal plans, it’s probably an informant.”
Other presenters included Khalil Meek, executive director of the MLFA; Shari Crittendon, attorney at the Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America; and Sarrah Buageila, project manager at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding.