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Right-Wing Media Attacked Muslim Advocates for Giving Muslims Common Legal Advice

Farhana Khera did a good job at the Dick Durbin hearings today.

Right-Wing Media Attacked Muslim Advocates for Giving Muslims Common Legal Advice

(Media Matters)

As a Senate subcommittee is poised to begin a hearing on Muslim civil rights, several right-wing media outlets are attacking Farhana Khera, a witness at the hearing and the executive director of the Muslim legal advocacy group Muslim Advocates, for urging American Muslims to have an attorney present when speaking to law enforcement. But this is standard advice given by many legal rights advocacy groups, including the American Bar Association and the Naval Legal Service Office.

Legal Groups Regularly Advise People To Have An Attorney Present When Speaking To Law Enforcement…

American Bar Association: It Is “Wise To Have A Lawyer Present” When Questioned By Law Enforcement. The ABA’s Division for Public Education provides the following advice:

Is it wise to have a lawyer present during interrogations?

Yes, even when you are not in custody. It is a good idea to call the local public defender or a lawyer in private practice before you talk to the police. A lawyer, or possibly a public defender, will be permitted to accompany you to the police station and be present to protect your interests during police questioning.

Many people believe that what they say to the police is not admissible unless written down, recorded on tape, or said to a prosecutor or judge. That is not true. To be on the safe side, you should assume that anything you say to anybody but your lawyer could be used against you at trial. [, accessed 3/29/11]

ABA: “It Is Generally Sound Advice To Consult With A Lawyer Before You Agree To Talk To The Police.” From the ABA’s Family Legal Guide:

Should I talk to the police if they want to question me about a criminal investigation?

If you are a witness to a crime, you should share your knowledge with the police. Without information from witnesses, police would be unable to solve crimes and prosecutors would be unable to convict guilty defendants in court. If, on the other hand, you played a role in the crime, or you think the police want to question you as a possible suspect, you have a right to refuse to talk to the police. You also have the right to consult with a lawyer regarding whether you should talk to the police. It is generally sound advice to consult with a lawyer before you agree to talk to the police. [American Bar Association Family Legal Guide, 2004, page 575-576, accessed via]

Naval Legal Service Office “Attorneys Strongly Encourage Service Members To Seek Legal Advice” Before Speaking With Law Enforcement. From the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps’ “Legal Services FAQ”:

Q. What rights do I have regarding making statements and speaking with an attorney?

A. As a military service member, you have specific rights under Article 31(b) of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and under the military’s version of “Miranda Rights,” known as “Miranda / Tempia Rights.”

PLEASE NOTE: If you are suspected of committing misconduct, then any attempt to interview you should begin with the investigator / questioner telling you that you are suspected of a specific violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice or civilian criminal laws. They must tell you what the nature of the violation is so that you may direct your answers specifically to those allegations.

When interrogated, you should be told the following:

  • You have the right to remain silent;
  • Any statement you make may be used against you in a trial by court-martial (or any court of law);
  • You have the right to consult with a lawyer before any questioning. This lawyer may be a civilian lawyer retained by you at your own expense, a military lawyer appointed to act as your lawyer (for the purposes of assisting you with the questioning) without cost to you, or both;
  • You have the right to have such retained civilian lawyer and/or appointed military lawyer present during this interview; and
  • If you decide to answer questions without a lawyer present, you have the right to stop the interview at any time. You also have the right to stop answering questions at any time in order to obtain a lawyer.

Q. Should I make a statement?

A. This question cannot be answered without first speaking to an attorney. You have certain legal rights (listed above) and one of them is to remain silent. You also have the right to speak to an attorney prior to making any statements. NLSO [Navy Legal Services Office] attorneys strongly encourage service members to seek legal advice prior to making any official or unofficial, written or oral statements to command representatives, law enforcement officials (military or civilian), investigators and any other person asking questions. Investigators and command members must advise you of your rights under Article 31(b) of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) prior to asking you any questions regarding criminal matters in which you are a suspect. Especially in situations where your rights are read or shown to you and you are told in advance of questioning that you are considered a suspect, NLSO attorneys strongly encourage you to exercise those rights and speak to an attorney prior to making any statement. [JAG.Navy.Mil, accessed 3/29/11]

ACLU: “If You Are Contacted By The FBI… Have A Lawyer Present.” From an American Civil Liberties Union fact sheet on “What To Do If You’re Stopped By Police, Immigration Agents or the FBI”:


If an FBI agent comes to your home or workplace, you do not have to answer any questions. Tell the agent you want to speak to a lawyer first.
If you are asked to meet with FBI agents for an interview, you have the right to say you do not want to be interviewed. If you agree to an interview, have a lawyer present. You do not have to answer any questions you feel uncomfortable answering, and can say that you will only answer questions on a specific topic. [, accessed 3/29/11]

ACLU: “It Is A Good Idea To Talk To A Lawyer Before Agreeing To Answer Questions.” From the ACLU pamphlet “Know Your Rights When Encountering Law Enforcement”:

Q: Do I have to answer questions asked by law enforcement officers?

A: No. You have the constitutional right to remain silent. In general, you do not have to talk to law enforcement officers (or anyone else), even if you do not feel free to walk away from the officer, you are arrested, or you are in jail. You cannot be punished for refusing to answer a question. It is a good idea to talk to a lawyer before agreeing to answer questions. In general, only a judge can order you to answer questions. [, accessed 3/29/11]

… But Right-Wing Media Nonetheless Smeared Khera For Giving That Advice To Muslims

Investigative Project On Terrorism Highlights Muslim Advocates’ Advice To Have An Attorney Present When Speaking With Law Enforcement. From a March 28 article by IPT News, the news service of Steve Emerson’s Investigative Project on Terrorism:

Another Muslim Advocates message is that Muslims should never talk to the FBI without an attorney present. The group’s web page includes an alert advising:

“The FBI is contacting Pakistani, South-Asian and other Muslim Americans to solicit information and advice about addressing violent extremism.

Muslim Advocates strongly urges individuals not to speak with law enforcement officials without the presence or advice of an attorney.”

During the July 2010 Islamic Society of North America conference, Khan warned Islamic community leaders about talking with FBI agents, saying the FBI only wants to use them as “sources” to cause unspecified “harm.”

“And sometimes these community members don’t even think of themselves as a source,” Khera said.” You know that they just might think themselves – Well I have a good relationship with the head of the FBI office; you know he comes by my office from time to time and we have tea, or we go to lunch, and he just talks to me about the community. But what may seem like an innocuous set of conversations in the FBI’s mind they may be thinking of you as an informant, as a source. And the repercussions and the harm that that can cause can be pretty serious.”

One example she cites is the case of Imam Ahmed Afzali, who was deported last July after pleading guilty to lying to federal agents about his communication with terrorist suspect Najibullah Zazi.

FBI agents had sought Afzali’s help in finding Zazi, who was being sought as he traveled to New York in hopes of carrying out a bombing attack on the subway system. Afzali later called Zazi, alerting him to the fact law enforcement was after him, allowing Zazi to evade law enforcement surveillance.

In remarks at last summer’s ISNA convention, Khera asserted that Afzali’s plight was the result of his speaking to the FBI without counsel, rather than because of his tipping off a wanted terror suspect. [IPT News, 3/28/11]

Daily Caller Attacked Khera For “Opposition To Easy Cooperation With Police Forces.” From a March 28 Daily Caller article:

Khera’s claim to represent ordinary Muslims, however, is tainted by her cooperation with Islamist groups, and by support for Ahmed Afzali, an Afghan-born New York imam. A court ordered Afzali expelled last April after he confessed to warning a suspect terrorist, Najibullah Zazi, of an FBI investigation into his activities. Zazi, an Afghan immigrant, pled guilty in February 2010 to preparing a suicide-bomb attack on civilians in the New York subway.

Khera entangled herself in the terror case in June 2010, after the guilty verdicts, when she spoke at a Chicago convention of Muslims. At the event, she described the Afzali’s tip-off to the suspected suicide-bomber as “self-policing” by Muslim community, not as aid for a would-be murderer. “The imam thinking that he was doing his civic duty, went, spoke to Zazi and said – Hey, what are you doing?,” according to a transcript of Khera’s remarks provided by the IPT. “Police are you know asking questions about you, you better not be up to anything bad.” The imam, she said, thought he was “doing his duty, what he thought was his civic responsibility, and helping, as so many of our community members feel like, to help self-police the community.”

Afzali’s subsequent expulsion, added Khera, “is just one example of really frankly the risks and consequences of engaging with law enforcement without an attorney.” Khera’s opposition to easy cooperation with police forces is matched by other Islamist groups, which argue that federal, state and local governments should appoint them as the conduits through which resident Muslims should deal with the government and law-enforcement. In January, for example, CAIR’s California branch posted an image on its website urging Muslims to “Build A Wall of Resistance. Don’t Talk to the FBI.” CAIR was founded by Islamists with ties to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. Hamas is the Gaza-based affiliate of the brotherhood.

Critics say Islamists’ campaign to limit cooperation with law-enforcement is a part of the groups’ effort to prevent the assimilation of immigrant and U.S.-born Muslims into secular American culture. This effort is also illustrated by pressure on Muslim girls to wear the hijab, which isolates them from non-Muslim men, the critics say. [Daily Caller, 3/28/11]

Gaffney: “Troubling” That Khera “Has Discouraged Muslims From Cooperating With Law Enforcement.” From Frank Gaffney’s March 28 Washington Times column:

Scarcely less troubling are [Sen. Richard] Durbin’s [D-IL] choice of witnesses. They include “civil rights activist” Farhana Khera, who Mr. Emerson recounts has discouraged Muslims from cooperating with law enforcement, and retired Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who is a prominent participant in interfaith dialogues manipulated by the largest Muslim Brotherhood front in the United States, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). [Washington Times, 3/28/11]

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  • Al

    The american legal system is a farce, protecting the rights of corporate entities and elitist interests over those of the people who make this country: working class immigrants/ children/ grand children/ and so on of immigrants aiming to live up to a standard of comfort and security that is oft only afforded to the few, top percentile, out of touch with the needs of the people, unwilling to support homogeneous living because it will be at the expense of the elites and their wealth and control over the direction of our once (not so) great nation.

    If THEY had it completely their way legalities wouldn’t be afforded to anyone. America repeats this paradigm with a new group of “sub-humans” every time internal conflicts come to fruition and we fall short of our hegemonic desires (disastrous empirical designs), prime example would be the Japanese American after we cut off oil supplies to the IJA in the early throws of WWII and the subsequent retaliation at Pearl Harbor.
    How long will it take before “we” throw Muslims in internment camps and present them as a Muslim “peril” or animalize them in caricature in an attempt at further dehumanization and demarcation.

    They’ll start with those who are the weakest/ have the least of a foothold in this nation, and work their way up until all opposition is removed from their path… Unfortunately, Muslims appear to be this weak group that is under attack… they need to be stood with in solidarity and they need to gain knowledge and protection when it comes to legalities and self preservation of their community so that they will continue to grow and flourish as Americans of merit and value to the rest of America.

  • All men are equal in the eyes of the law, except Muslims. These hate mongers are devoid of their humanity the moment Muslims are involved.

  • Daniel

    That’s too true, Corey.

    Indeed, many Conservatives, while paying lip service to Consititutional protections for the accused, in reality have utter distain for the system. They don’t really like law enforcement having “their hands tied” by silly things like prohibiting warrantless searches and wire taps (“why not? Do you have something to hide?”), prohibiting cruel and unusual punishment (“they deserve it!!!”), prohibiting self-incrimination (“that’s just what the mob does”), etc.

  • corey

    they may have been watching too much law and order considering in that show a suspect gets a lawyer he is the bad guy.

  • It takes a special kind of human to lie about what someone has said, with the intent of maligning that person, when they know the advice given is good advice for EVERYONE to follow.

    I saw these two videos sometime ago and I pass them along now. Any jurist or honest law enforcement officer will tell you ALWAYS have a lawyer present when you talk to the authorities. It is till now still a constitutional right even for Muslims. Gaffney, are disingenuous when they say exercising that right is refusing to cooperate.

    Now for the link:

    Keep exposing the lies….speak loudly against bigotry and racism!

  • Saladin

    @Solid Snake:
    *GASP* more Muslims participating in the American life and being proud Americans and Muslims at the same time, man what’s next Muslims in film wait that already happened this just too much.

    Seriously though I think these guys are so entrenched in their world view that it makes it hard or them to have empathy for others. And organizations like Fox just aid in misrepresenting facts and spreading hysteria till everything becomes suspicious.

  • Nur Alia

    Concidering that seemingly more and more…Muslims are guilty by association,it is good advice to have someone help you…and at least witness what you tell law enforcement.

  • Solid Snake

    What!! Now they are participating in the very system we so cherish and respect! *GASP* What if! What if they are assimilating!! i mean look at them! LEGAL ADVISE! Barbarians arnt suppossed to give each other legal advice!!

  • That’s right folks. When Muslims do anything that a normal person would do it is considered sinister. Islamophobes will never be satisfied until we do exactly what they say: convert from Islam or go back to Saudi Arabia 🙂

    Allahu A’lam


    “This sacred knowledge shall be borne by reliable authorities from each generation, who will preserve it from the distortions of extremists, the plans of the corrupt and the false explanations of the ignorant.” (Narrated mursal by Al-Bayhaqi in Kitab al-Madkhal on the authority of Ibrahim bin ‘Abd al-Rahman al-’Udhri.)

  • Daniel

    Mindy, you know the answer–because literally ANYTHING done by a Muslim is suspect in the eye of the Islamaphobe.

  • mindy1

    If all she is doing is giving common sense legal advice, as is allowed by the law, what is the problem??

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