NEW YORK – US officials praised on Monday, October 10, the American Muslim community as having the most productive relationships with law enforcement officers, contrary to a claim by presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump this week.
“They do not want people committing violence, either in their community or in the name of their faith, and so some of our most productive relationships are with people who see things and tell us things who happen to be Muslim,” FBI director James Comey told Reuters.
“It’s at the heart of the FBI’s effectiveness to have good relationships with these folks,” Comey said at a press conference following the Orlando shootings.
During Sunday night’s US presidential debate, Trump called on Muslims to report “hatred” and “problems”, “when they see them”.
But then he immediately went on to insinuate that millions of American Muslims are keeping secrets to protect terrorists within their communities.
Andrew Ames, a spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Washington field office, told Reuters on Wednesday that the agency has a “robust” relationship with the local Muslim community.
Michael Downing, deputy chief of the Los Angeles Police Department and head of its Counterterrorism and Special Operations Bureau, said the city’s Muslim community has been cooperative in reporting “red flags.”
“I personally have been called by community members about several things, very significant things,” Downing told Reuters. “What we say to communities is that we don’t want you to profile humans, we want you to profile behavior.”
Charles Kurzman, a professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, who has conducted several studies on Muslim-Americans and terrorism, disputed Trump’s criticism.
“To claim there is no cooperation is false and defamatory to the Muslim-American community,” Kurzman said.
Kurzman referred to a January 2016 study by himself and colleagues at Duke University’s Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security which found that many law enforcement agencies had made progress in establishing trust with local Muslim-American communities.
“The group participants expressed concern that police would be more likely to encourage a plot in order to make an arrest,” the authors wrote, “rather than to divert people onto a nonviolent path that community members and family members would prefer.”