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Michigan Muslims prepare for Trump Justice Department: “We’re bracing for profound change”

The U.S. Attorney's office in Detroit
U.S. Department of Justice
The U.S. Attorney's office in Detroit

Stateside's conversation with Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council for American Islamic Relations

As the United States moves into the first week of the Trump presidency, there is some question as to whether the new president will follow through on his major campaign pledges. Some of his most controversial proposals involved the way his administration would relate to Muslim Americans, and Muslims hoping to come to the United States from abroad.

The U.S. Attorney's office in Detroit
Credit U.S. Department of Justice
The U.S. Attorney's office in Detroit

With regard to the latter, he called for an outright ban until, as he put it, “our country's representatives can figure out what is going on.” He also suggested during the campaign that he supported a registry or database of Muslims living in the United States.

So how are Muslim Americans preparing for life under the Trump administration?

Dawud Walid is the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) of Michigan. He told us  his organization regularly reminds Muslim Americans throughout the state that they don’t have to speak to law enforcement officers without an attorney.

“Many people tend to forget that it was the FBI who wiretapped Martin Luther King Jr., spied on Martin Luther King Jr., and even tried to extort him to commit suicide,” Walid said, noting that tactics introduced during the McCarthy era and the Counterintelligence Program era are still in use today.

Next week, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a vote on Trump’s nominee for attorney general, Jeff Sessions. If confirmed, Sessions will appoint a new U.S. attorney to replace Barbara L. McQuade in the Eastern District of Michigan, in which the majority of Michigan’s Muslim community lives. Together, Sessions and the new U.S. Attorney will decide what kinds of cases and investigations to pursue – and how to pursue them.

Walid said that CAIR is particularly concerned about the way the justice department will enforce civil rights laws under Sessions.

“When we have an attorney general that’s coming who’s on record as saying that his major problem with the KKK is that they smoke cannabis, I think that’s very problematic,” he said. “That doesn’t bode very well for us in the civil rights community.”

Listen to our full interview with Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, above.

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