By Imad Hamad
for Detroit News
The recent FBI surveillance planes that were observed flying over Dearborn a few days ago made many revisit the issue of trust between the Arab and Muslim American community and the federal government.
Did these planes fly over Dearborn because of its identity as the hub of the Arab and Muslim American community? Surveillance is an issue of concern to a community that has dealt with different unfortunate episodes, and has become aware of questionable federal law enforcement techniques.
The FBI responded to community concerns by stating that the aerial surveillance is real but its mission is legitimate law enforcement activity and not broad profiling of any particular community. Despite that, many could not help but perceive that the government was profiling the community.
There is a real and acute sense that Arab Americans and Muslim Americans are treated unfairly and viewed suspiciously as a group.
There is no doubt that the U.S. faces a real terror threat. And surveillance, when it comports with the law and the democratic traditions of the nation, is a legitimate and necessary law enforcement tool. The FBI planes are not solely an Arab or Dearborn issue, and portraying them as such is inaccurate and perhaps irresponsible as well.
Most importantly for the Arab and Muslim American community, the news of the FBI planes over parts of Metro Detroit came when the Wall Street Journal published on Aug. 5 a report about FBI efforts to counter violent extremism.
Imad Hamad is executive director of the American Human Rights Council.
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