The recent seizure of US mosques by federal authorities is raising concern amongst Muslim advocacy groups about the religious freedom and civil liberties of the majority of law-abiding US Muslims.
The mosques, property of the Iranian Alavi Foundation, were seized by authorities as part of an investigation probing financial ties to Iran’s nuclear program. The mosques themselves have been not been accused of any wrongdoing.
“As a civil rights organization we are concerned that the seizure of American houses of worship could have a chilling effect on the religious freedom of citizens of all faiths and may send a negative message to Muslims worldwide,” the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said in a statement.
The move puts average Muslims at the center of the political dispute between Tehran and Washington, said Imam Mahdi Bray, executive director of the Muslim American Society’s Freedom Foundation.
“The American Muslim and faith communities must not allow houses of worship to become pawns in geopolitical struggles,” Imam Bray told CNN. “The tension between the United States and Iran must not be played out in the mosques of America.”
The Muslim American Society’s Freedom Foundation called the actions an “unprecedented encroachment of religious freedom.” The group said “it is an abiding concern among the American Muslim community that this action is just the beginning of a backlash after last week’s Fort Hood shooting tragedy.”
The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) is also seeking more information from the federal government on the property seizure.