Here are suggestions from Mr. Oz Sultan, who had handled PR and Police engagement for Park51 AKA the “Ground Zero Mosque”. He recommends the following guidelines are for armed and un-armed protests. Even though most Muslims do not carry arms, it is a good ideas to be aware of it.
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If your Masjid anticipates an armed protest of your state has open carry laws, it’s recommended that you take the following steps:
1) Designate a Masjid Elder or Leader as a point person for Police Engagement
2) Contact the Community Outreach Office or the office of the Commissioner / Sheriff / etc.
3) Ensure that the police are aware of the demonstrations and Mosque open and close timings. Police should be present if your Mosque is on the city targeted list in an open carry state.
Here is a map of open carry states. If your state is yellow, you need police present: http://www.opencarry.org/?page_id=103
Community Police or the local Sheriff / Police office should be aware that additional officers may be needed if a large protest crowd accumulates.
Oversight and Communication: Congregations
1) Ensure by Friday that Police presence will be at the Masjid from Open to Close, if you are on the targeted list.
1) Each Masjid should issue an email and call the phone tree of all Mosque elders to highlight the protest risk this weekend.
While we want Muslims to continue their normal weekend and Sunday school activites, there are many that may be apprehensive of protest.
2) Follow the Guidelines Mike has set for orderly engagement and prevention of conflict
In Mosque Engagement: Armed protesters
1) If you are in an Open Carry state, have your local police ready to set up a weapons check for armed protesters. For those unfamiliar, a weapons check is like a coat check – only for guns. No Masjid personnel should handle weapons under any circumstances.
2) For Armed and Unarmed protester engagement: have 2 – 3 members of the congregation who can converse clearly in English and be prepared for questions on what Islam is and what Muslims believe. Leaflets or handouts would be useful if you have them available, otherwise be prepared for conversations.
If you are unprepared for conversations, then don’t do the in Masjid engagement.
3) Welcoming protesters into the Masjid: Protesters should be greeted with a hello and then Salam, if they do not seem agitated. If protesters seem agitated keep conversations in English and it may make sense to forego any in Masjid engagement
Ingress and Egress: THIS IS THE SECOND BIGGEST ISSUE
1) For both of the scheduled protest days, communicate with your congregations where they should park, in order to prevent congregants from being blocked in by protesters, as this will incite panic.
2) Have designated parking areas for protesters and use the local Police to help coordinate, should there be any issues.
Refreshments and Food
1) A few cases of water from Costco will send a message that’s very different than what protesters expect. It may also be helpful to have a BBQ setup and grill chicken kebabs (everyone loves kebabs) and it helps them identify an aspect of our culture with BBQ culture.
Lastly. Keep a cool head – this like all things will pass. Jazakaallah Kahir.