Islamic Human Rights Commission
URGENT ALERT: Precautionary advice for UK Muslims on the eve of war
18 March 2003
1. Services provided by the police
2. Harassment by Police and Security Services
3. Precautionary Measures for the Community and Community Institutions
4. 24 Safety Tips for Muslim Women (24 Safety Tips for Muslim Women, by Samana Siddiqui, courtesy & copyright soundvision.com)
5. A final note from IHRC
1. Services Provided by the Police
The Metropolitan Police Service, which provides police cover for the London area, is providing extra cover for Islamic centres, mosques etc. Please contact your local station to co-ordinate these efforts. If you live outside London you should still contact your local station and ask for extra cover and vigilance for your centre.
If you as an individual or an organisation have experienced any harassment or backlash incidents, please report the incident(s) immediately to your local police station. Please also advise us at IHRC so that we can monitor the level of harassment faced by the Muslim community and assist if you find any difficulties in getting an adequate response from the police service and other agencies.
You can report incidents to us by calling the office 020 8902 0888 or emailing us on firstname.lastname@example.org. Even if you decide not to report the incident to the police, please report it to us. All reports are kept in strictest confidence, and can be made anonymously if you wish.
2. Harassment by Police and Security Services
There has been an increase in police and security service harassment of Muslims in recent months. The harassment itself has affected a very wide and predominantly innocent spectrum of the British Muslim community. This is increasingly worrying when contextualised within a general rise of Islamophobia in Britain and the world over in the last few years.
The forms of harassment experienced has not been limited to security services in this country but has also effected British Muslims that go abroad. On the eve of war it is also vital that Muslims be on high alert against possible attacks against mosques, Islamic Centres as well as maltreatment of Muslims by members of the public.
IHRC’s informative ‘Know Your Rights’ leaflet is widely available and has also been printed in the Muslim Directory. It details what to do if contacted by MI5, Special Branch also known as the Anti Terrorist Branch as well as what to do if you are arrested or detained in custody for any reason by the police.
It is vital that all such cases of harassment or perceived harassment be recorded. This cannot be stressed enough. If you have experienced any form of harassment from either security services call the office on 020 8902 0888 or email us email@example.com, so that it is documented, any information will be treated in the strictest of confidence. In addition if you wish to order copies of the ‘know your rights’ leaflet or help distribute them in your area please contact the IHRC office.
3. PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES FOR THE COMMUNITY
There has been an increase in anti-Muslim feeling across Europe, the USA and Australia. Attacks, both verbal and physical have been reported to the Islamic Human Rights Commission. The treatment ranges from being spat at, forcibly having the hijaab removed, harassment of young children at school, and death threats etc.
In light of the present situation, IHRC urges that precautionary measures be taken:
• Be vigilant
• Do not open suspect packages
• Monitor access to car parks and other enclosures under your control. Report suspicious vehicles to the police.
• Review security arrangements regularly to ensure they are adequate for any event you intend to host.
• Ask your local crime prevention officer to carry out a crime prevention survey of your building.
• Encourage staff to take security seriously and establish regular training for them. Ensure they are aware of contingency plans and
procedures for the building. Make guidelines readily available to all staff including ‘out of doors’ house keeping staff.
• Consider having a fire safety review carried out by the London Fire and Emergency planning Authority.
• Consider installing CCTV. If you do have CCTV ensure it records properly & images are of good quality.
• Report all harassment, whether it is verbal, physical or psychological, to the police and the Islamic Human Rights Commission (020 8902 0888, firstname.lastname@example.org)
• If a satisfactory response is not received from the police, contact the IHRC
• Liaise with the police, and get advice on how to best tackle the problem of harassment.
As Muslims, we must remain firm in our beliefs and have patience. We should remember that:
Allah does not lay on any soul a burden except to the extent to which He has granted it; Allah brings about ease after difficulty. (65:7)
If Allah assists you, then there is none that can overcome you, and if He forsakes you, who is there then that can assist you after Him? And on Allah should the believers rely. (3:160)
4. 24 Safety Tips for Muslim Women
By Samana Siddiqui
courtesy & copyright soundvision.com
As Muslims and their institutions become targets of harassment in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attack, Muslim women, especially those who dress Islamically, have become major targets.
Reports of Muslim women being yelled at, threatened, having their Hijabs pulled off and having guns pointed at them have surfaced. It is necessary that the whole community rallies to defend Muslim women. But sisters also have to take personal precautions when they go outside. Like it or not, they will be targets.
Here are some safety tips for sisters:
1. Always be aware of your surroundings
This applies whether you are traveling alone or in groups. Don\’t just focus inwardly on your thoughts if you are alone, or your friends if you are together. Keep one eye out for your environment, looking out for suspicious characters, possible danger, etc.
Also, don\’t assume that because your area has been \”safe\” thus far, that it will continue to be so.
2. Travel in groups
\”There is safety in numbers\” is not just a cliché. It\’s true. Make a point of travelling together with other sisters, whether it\’s on public transportation, on campus, in cars, etc.
3. Change the route you normally travel by
If you\’ve taken the same bus, train or highway to get to work or school, change your route. Even if it takes you a little longer, your safety is more important. By changing your route, you can avert possible attacks or
harassment from those who know your schedule, method and route of travel well. Please note though that you should avoid short cuts that take you through unfamiliar or unsafe areas.
4. Look confident
Walk with a straight posture and your arms swinging by your sides. Avoid slouching or walking like a victim. This makes you an easy target for attackers.
5. When riding by public transportation choose the right seat
If you are riding by bus or train, do not sit on the window seat as you may be \”blocked in\” by a potential assailant. Always select the seat next to the aisle so that you can quickly leave if necessary.
If you are taking public transportation alone after peak hours, sit as close to the driver as possible and/or choose the section of the bus/train that is most crowded. Try to get a seat near the exit as well.
6. If you are driving alone
Don\’t think that if you are in a car, you\’re safe. Windows should be up and doors locked even when driving to avoid unwanted passengers at intersections. When you are walking to your car, always have your keys
ready, so that you can quickly get into your car.
But don\’t just get in right away. Always check your car before entering, especially the back, for any intruders.
7. Never leave your car door unlocked
Even if it means for one minute to drop something off in the mailbox that\’s
a few feet away. Attackers have been known to lie in wait for such an
8. Be careful in parking lots
Always be alert in parking lots, especially when it\’s dark. Ask someone to escort you to your car. Between cars and inside cars, it\’s easy for someone to hide and wait until an unalert person comes along.
9. If you are travelling by taxi
Always check the identification of the driver (usually located near the visor) and ensure that it matches the driver. Once inside, don\’t sit behind the driver as it may be easy for the driver to lock the rear passenger door. Always choose the adjacent seat .
In addition, avoid flagging taxis. Always order taxis so the driver can be traced if something happens.
10. Don\’t use the walkman
If you\’re used to listening to your walkman while outside, drop this habit, especially in isolated areas. With your walkman on, you cannot hear the approach of a possible attacker.
11. Note \”safe houses\” along your route
Mentally note houses at intervals on each route you take that can be used as \”safe houses\” if you are attacked, such as shops or houses that you know to be occupied by a friend or acquaintance.
12. When you make a call from a phone booth
After dialling the number you wish to call always turn around so that you have your back to the phone and may see who or what is coming your way. You will then be able to tell the person to whom you are speaking that you may be in trouble and you may be able to use the weight of the phone as a weapon. The door of a telephone box could be used to wedge in the limbs of the attacker.
13. Do not open the door of your home without checking
DO NOT open the door to your home without first checking from a window, peephole or by asking and verifying who it is. Instruct children to do the same.
14. Report any suspicious activity around your home
If you see people loitering on the streets near your house, call the police on a non emergency number and report it.
15. Invest in a cell phone
This is an invaluable safety device. Keep it with you at all times and keep emergency numbers on it. Also, keep it next to your bed before you go to bed at night. Cell phones were first popularized by women as a security device, business people came later.
16. Parking tips
Avoid parking in areas that are not well lit. Where possible, park close to a school or work entrance or in a parking garage that has an attendant.
If you see a suspicious person approaching or hanging around near your parked car, turn around and go back to an area where there are other people. Try to get an escort to your car through the campus or job security or local
17. Tell others about your whereabouts
Parents, spouses and friends should know where you are going and when you will be back, so that your absence will be noticed. Arrange a call in system with a friend if you live alone, whereby you call when you arrive home.
18. Trust your instincts
If you are walking somewhere and feel strange or scared, don\’t ignore this feeling. Take extra precautions by walking a little faster to get to a more populated or well-lit area or change the route you\’ve been driving on.
19. If you think you are being followed, change your route and activity.
You can cross the street, change directions, or enter a populated building or store. Do whatever is necessary to avoid being alone with the person who is following you. Inform a police officer or security official about the follower.
20. Attract attention if you are in a dangerous situation.
Get others\’ to pay attention to what\’s happening to you if you are under attack or being harassed. You can alert others by honking a car horn or loudly describing what is happening.
21. NEVER admit that you are alone
If someone calls your home and asks if you are alone, NEVER admit it. Ask who the caller is. If they refuse to identify themselves, calmly hangup. Keep the radio on in the house so that callers will get the impression that others are in the home too. Instruct children to do the same when they pick up the phone.
22. Obscene phone calls
If you receive an obscene call or a crank call, do not talk to the caller. Hang up if the caller doesn\’t say anything, or as soon as s/he shouts obscenities. Hang up the phone calmly and do not slam it down. Note down the date and time of the calls. If they are persistent, inform local police.
23. If you are a student
Avoid studying in isolated classrooms in parts of the college campus that are not regularly patrolled by the school\’s security officers.
24. In large buildings take the elevator, not the stairwell
Stairwells are usually quiet and dark. Most people take the elevator. But if someone creepy gets on, don\’t hesitate to get off at the same time. Or, if someone is already on the elevator who you feel strange about, do not get on and wait for the next elevator.
5. A final note from IHRC
At times like this, it is essential to realise that the only superpower is Allah subhana wa ta ala, the All-knowing, the All-powerful. To Him belongs all in the heavens and the earth, and we should not forget the power of praying and turning to Allah. We would like to recommend taking every opportunity to pray for the innocent people of Iraq.
You can ask your Imam to do a special Qunoot during Jumuah prayers, as the Prophet (peace be upon him) did at the time of calamity.
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“And what reason have you that you should not fight in the way of Allah and of the weak among the men and the women and the children, (of) those who say: Our Lord! Cause us to go forth from this town, whose people are oppressors, and give us from Thee a guardian and give us from Thee a helper.”
Holy Qur’an: Chapter 4, Verse 75
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Islamic Human Rights Commission
PO Box 598, Wembley, London, United Kingdom, HA9 7XH
Telephone (+44) 20 8902 0888
Fax (+44) 20 8902 0889