A new civil rights organization is seeking to put an end to preemptive prosecution, a growing concern for the American Muslim community.
The National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms, NCPFC, established in October 2010, aims to reveal and ultimately stop the government from seeking out perceived threats on the basis of race or religion prior to a committed crime.
Recent information regarding government funded spying on Muslim communities has raised even more concern over the frequency of such situations.
“The idea was that we would put the coalition together to deal with those types of cases that are rarely dealt with by organizations exclusively,” said Ashraf Nubani, a Virginia based high-profile immigration and criminal defense attorney who works with the coalition.
While Nubani himself is Muslim, and the coalition works on a large number of cases dealing with Muslims, the majority of the coalition are not Muslim groups. Of the twenty, only eight are Muslim based.
“We don’t only deal with Muslims exclusively. ...It’s just that everyone knows now that the bulk of these cases have been on Muslims,” said Nubani.
Regardless of religion, Nubani said, the issues are universal.
“These violations end up affecting all of society...Today it’s the Muslims, tomorrow it can be someone else.” he said. “The goal is to build a national movement that includes as many civil liberty groups as possible.”
Made up of both national and local organizations the coalition extends its efforts in various directions.
When Pittsburgh resident Khalifah Al-Akili approached the group about the FBI attempting to entrap him in terrorist-type activity, the NCPCF took action. However, the day before their press conference on Al-Akili’s case, he was arrested on a weapons possession charge. The NCPCF described the arrest as “suspiciously-timed.”
Nubani said the coalition has collected 200 similar cases of preemptive prosecution and is establishing a database of all cases presented to them.
“We are able to pinpoint patterns and keep track of the cases so that we can deal with them,” he said.
Ultimately, the lower the number of cases to be dealt with, the better.
“That’s the measure of our success, if we can roll back these cases,” said Nubani.
Along with efforts to uncover and eliminate preemptive prosecution NCPFC deals with a variety of other civil rights concerns as they pertain to Muslim prisoners and their families, prison conditions and racial profiling.
Education of the community is on the top of the list as well, particularly when it comes to preemptive prosecution.
“We face a lot apathy from people but they ignore these things to their own peril,” said Nubani. “Preemptive prosecution proves that anyone can be a victim...The Muslim community may not know the meaning of preemptive prosecution but Muslims know that they are targets.”
While Nubani said that civil rights issues like this have occurred in the past and may occur again in the future, he is confident that the coalition operates on a formula that may be the beginning of the end to similar profiling.
“I think we have the formula which is to build a movement where we work locally and by working locally we work up to a national presence. [It’s] a movement to roll back the tide of preemptive prosecution,” said Nubani.