Leaders of the Central Ohio Muslim community, representing area Islamic and Arab-American organizations, met Monday with top officials of the FBI. The goal of the meeting, facilitated by the Ohio office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Ohio) was to have an open and informal discussion about topics of concern to the Muslim community.

Issues addressed at the meeting included ways to prevent hate crimes and backlash attacks that may result from the war on Iraq and how the local Muslim community can do its part in the defense against terrorism.

"Like all Americans, the Muslim community in Ohio is concerned about America's national security," said CAIR-Ohio Executive Director Jad Humeidan. "The leadership of our community is ready, willing and able to work with law enforcement authorities for the safety and security of this country," said Humeidan.

He added that CAIR-Ohio has received several complaints of harassment by FBI agents, and that agency supervisors need to ensure that agents in the field are not over-stepping their legal authority.

"The FBI is lacking when it comes to minority representation in their force, which may contribute to some of the complaints that the Muslim community has regarding issues of sensitivity and tactfulness as they carry out their investigations," said Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge Jim Casey.

Representatives of Arab-Americans of Central Ohio, Ohio office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Islamic Foundation of Central Ohio, Islamic Society of Greater Columbus, Muslim Community Center/Masjid Al-Nour, and Somali Community Center of Ohio took part in the meeting.

There are some 150,000 Muslims in Ohio and an estimated seven million in America. CAIR is America's largest Islamic civil liberties group. It is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and has 16 regional offices nationwide and in Canada. Since its founding in 1994, CAIR has defended the civil and religious rights of all Americans.