As if Muslim Americans haven't had it hard enough during this presidential campaign—what with Donald Trump's steady drumbeat of Islamophobic racism–now comes reports that federal agents are paying surprise visits to Muslims across the United States ahead of the November 8 election.
According to officials from the Council on American Islamic Relations, representatives from the FBI have questioned Muslims living in at least eight states leading up to November 8, reportedly searching for information pertaining to a possible Election Day al Qaeda threat.
Hassan Shibly, executive director of CAIR's Florida offices, called the reported questioning "completely outrageous," and "borderline unconstitutional," telling the Washington Post:
That’s the equivalent of the FBI visiting churchgoing Christians because someone overseas was threatening to blow up an abortion clinic. It’s that preposterous and outrageous.
On Twitter, CAIR's Dallas-Fort Worth director Alia Salem posted a short video updating her followers about the FBI visits, and offering a series of resources for anyone approached by law enforcement.
"It was made apparent to us that the FBI has a list of a couple hundred people they are wanting to visit," Salem told the Dallas Morning News. "And ask a series of eight generic questions intended to drum up information about the attacks."
The FBI's sudden scrutiny of Muslim Americans comes as the United States is experiencing a surge in white nationalism and militia groups, fueled in no small part by Donald Trump's KKK-backed candidacy. Militant Trump supporters have, in fact, explicitly stoked fears of violence come Election Day.
"Prior to this campaign season, these ideas were relegated to sort of the political fringe of the American political landscape," Ryan Lenz, a researcher at the Southern Poverty Law Center told Reuters. "Now these ideas are legitimized."
Perhaps while the FBI is questioning Muslim Americans over vague international threats, they should check in with some of the no-longer-fringe radicals on America's far right wing, too.