March 22, 2023
People gather at the Islamic Center of Orange County Mosque before sunset during Ramadan. After the sun sets, snacks are distributed, followed by a 10-minute prayer.

This Ramadan, mosques may be approached by Islamophobic protestors or individuals proselytizing to Muslims encouraging them to leave Islam. CAIR-LA has developed this handout of best practices and what to do if approached by these individuals.

These individuals have the right to:

  • Be on public sidewalks and areas even if near the masjid.  
  • Hold signs and posters on public sidewalks as long as the material is not obscene.
  • Distribute leaflets, flyers, or other literature on public sidewalks as long as the material is not obscene.
  • Engage in loud speech that is not overly disruptive.
  • Engage in speech that challenges the practices or beliefs of Muslims.

If these individuals are engaging in protected activity:

  • Leave them alone and do not engage with them.
  • Inform your community and congregation to not engage with them.
  • Many of the individuals are looking to get a rise out of you. Ignore them.

These individuals do not have the right to:

  • Disrupt the normal operations of the masjid.
  • Block access to entryways or exists.
  • Engage in speech that is likely to incite disruptive or dangerous behavior.
  • Engage in loud disruptive behavior that is in violation of local noise ordinances. You can google your local county or city noise ordinances for more information.
  • To enter the masjid or any other related private property without consent.
  • Generally, organize marches or large rallies outside the masjid without proper permits.

If the individuals are engaging in activity that is not protected:

  • The mosque should designate one or two individuals to ask them to leave.
  • If they are aggressive or disruptive, do not engage and contact local law enforcement.
  • Do not provoke the situation with inflammatory language or actions.

Best Practices for Mosques:

  • If you are aware of these individuals coming to your masjid, inform your local police force to ensure a record of your concerns is documented. Internally document every time you contact local police.
  • Develop internal policies and practices for dealing with outside visitors who are not congregants. For example, non-congregant visitors must sign in with the front office before visiting the masjid. Also, consider implementing policies that prohibit publicly expressive activity (e.g., flyering, holding signs, etc.) on masjid property that is not approved by the masjid or that is not directly related to masjid purposes.
  • Post signs regarding these policies.
  • Consider posting no trespassing signs around your facility.
  • Make sure your security and parking personnel are informed and trained on dealing with these individuals.
  • Install security cameras and implement other security measures.

Contact CAIR-LA at 714-776-1177 (#2) if individuals are engaging in an activity they do not have the right to engage in.