The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has warned American Muslims to avoid state capitol buildings and surrounding areas ahead of Presidential Inauguration Day.
CAIR also urged mosques and community centres to protect themselves “due to threat of far-right, White supremacist violence” following the recent storming of the U.S. Capitol.
“CAIR is deeply concerned that far-right insurrectionists unable to vent their political grievances at the national or state capitols will target minority community centres and houses of worship as an alternative for their destructive rage,” CAIR’s government affairs director Robert McCaw told CNN.
“CAIR is warning the Muslim community to prepare themselves for this reality,” he said. “We want to make sure everyone is safe.”
Law enforcement and state officials are on high alert for potentially violent protests in the lead-up to Inauguration Day, with some state capitols boarded up and others temporarily closed ahead of Wednesday’s ceremony.
The FBI says it has received information warning of “armed protests” in all 50 state capitols and the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s swearing-in.
Domestic extremists pose the most likely threat to the inauguration, particularly those who believe the incoming administration is illegitimate, according to a joint bulletin from the Department of Homeland Security, FBI and eight other agencies.
Outgoing President Donald Trump has repeatedly condemned last November’s election as fraudulent and his supporters consider Joe Biden to have stolen the vote, although these claims have been called baseless.
“CAIR is warning any Muslim that makes the choice to be a counter protestor to assert caution and remain safe as they encounter White supremacists, but also law enforcement officers that target Black or Muslim peaceful counter-protestors instead of the extremists,” McCaw said.
CAIR’s chapter in Minnesota, the epicentre of heated protests over the police killing of George Floyd, says the warning extends to Black communities and other minorities.
“For Muslims and especially Black Muslims, what happened on January 6 showed a clear difference in treatment in how law enforcement treats White rioters,” CAIR Minnesota executive director Jaylani Hussein told CNN. “We just want to warn Black people attending counter protests to remember police will not act the same way to you as they act towards White people storming the capitol.”
“The risk isn’t only from White supremacists, but also from police,” he added.