New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa held his first meeting Wednesday with a new committee aimed at improving relations between law enforcement and Muslims.
It took place over the objection of some Muslim activists who wanted a boycott of the meeting because of Chiesa's previous finding that public surveillance of New Jersey Muslims by the New York Police Department did not violate state law. That surveillance has ended, Chiesa said in the meeting.
In an op-ed piece published Tuesday, Arab American Forum President Aref Assaf cast any Muslim who attended as a sell-out. "Our dignity and our rights are too precious for a passing photo-op," he wrote.
In addition to Chiesa's finding – which came in response to a request from Muslim activists – Assaf objected to the meeting because the 10 Muslim representatives primarily come from mosque leadership and not from Islamist political groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
"While honored and respected in their own mosques, and we of course do not doubts (sic) their intentions," Assaf wrote, "these people were not presented to the Muslim community with their credentials and none appear to be of legal or academic backgrounds."
This drew praise from 3,000 miles away, as CAIR-San Francisco Executive Director Zahra Billoo posted a comment on Twitter feed directing people to Assaf's column. "Great Piece About Who Gets to Decide Who Represents the Community in Engagement with Law Enforcement," she wrote.
While CAIR claims to be a friend to law enforcement, the Investigative Project on Terrorism has repeatedly demonstrated the group's hostility and the paranoid message it conveys to Muslims. That includes a new profile of Billoo, showing her reflexive criticism of terror-related arrests by the FBI and her open advocacy of extreme positions.
Given that, her enthusiastic support for Assaf's stance makes sense. Assaf wants veto power over the people a state official chooses to engage. And he argues Muslims should shun Chiesa until he agrees with them.
"Unless the AG is about to change his opinion [on the NYPD surveillance], I fail to see a tangible value in talking. 'Our' representatives fundamentally disagree with the AG's view. Or don't they?"