Back in 2004 attorney Tom Nelson had some advice for Muslim Americans who found themselves scrutinized by the US government...."My legal advice to my Muslim clients is," said Nelson, "'Don't talk to them. Avoid them. Do what you can to not give them any information, because they are after you--not because you're thought to be a terrorist, but because you're thought to be an enemy. Avoid them if you can. If you can't avoid them, don't say anything.'"
Over a decade later the rise of Donald Trump to the US presidency has presented Muslims worldwide with a new set of realities. Trump's ban on travel and immigration from several Muslim majority countries has been met with widespread protests at international airports and a flurry of legal actions. Portland Lawyer Tom Nelson is no stranger to the legal struggles of Muslims in America and joins guest host Linda Olson-Osterlund on Positively Revolting to discuss the events of the past month and the path forward.
In an Aprill 2011 letter to the city of Portland Tom Nelson wrote:
"I have witnessed first-hand Department of Justice's going to unusual steps to create and inflame Islamophobia in Portland, which, of course, is the main cause of the threats to Muslims' safety, not to mention their civil rights. Today, of course, the Portland Police Bureau is untainted by the Department of Justice's actions, and as a result there has been strong and significant cooperation between the Muslim community and the Bureau in recent years. Portland's joining the JTTF will, in my opinion, lessen if not eliminate that cooperation: Muslims simply will not feel secure or comfortable in calling Bureau personnel when an emergency arises because they will not know whether the first responders are there "to serve and protect" or to spy. Ultimately I believe the Muslim community will come to realize that it cannot look to the Bureau for protection, which raises the uncomfortable question of how such necessary protection might be provided. The City of Portland has put too much effort to build trust with the Muslim community to destroy that trust by joining the JTTF. No one doubts that the FBI has a legitimate role to serve, but that role - in contradistinction to the role of the Portland Police Bureau - is not as a first responder charged with immediate protection of Portland's Muslim citizens. In my opinion, the FBI and the Department of Justice have so abused Muslims in Oregon since 9/11 as exemplified by the four examples above that there is no hope of any real cooperation between the Muslim community and federal authorities. By aligning itself with the federal authorities, the Police Bureau will become every bit as suspect - to the detriment of the overall Portland community, not to mention the Muslim community."