Robocalls administered by a Muslim group asking Muslim-Americans about their religious affiliation caused alarm among recipients fearful of a surveillance program under a Trump administration.
The ominous calls went out earlier this week and were administered by Emerge USA, a nonprofit advocacy group for Muslims, South Asian and Arab Americans who outsourced a company to conduct post-election polling, one of the call’s recipients told the Daily News after confirming it with his mosque leader.
Emerge USA reportedly did not give public notice about the robocalls and the calls did not identify which group administered them.
“If they had said, ‘Hey, this is where it’s coming [from],’ it would have saved us being concerned about it,” a 27-year-old Muslim-American from the Philadelphia area who didn’t want to be identified by name told the Daily News.
“There’s just a lot of talk about surveillance of Muslims within workplaces and surveillance of mosques,” he said, after saying Tuesday that he personally knew 5 or 6 fellow Muslim-Americans in the Philadelphia area who received the calls. Donald Trump has proposed the surveillance of Muslim-Americans as a way of combating homegrown terrorism, a policy civil liberties advocates blasted as a violation of their constitutional rights.
Concerned Muslim-Americans posted to social media about the bizarre calls, which asked them to press “yes” if they were Muslim and “no” if they were not. Some recipients said the call would abruptly hang up no matter their response to the question.
CAIR has received reports of American Muslims receiving robocalls asking if they "identify" as Muslim. No other questions are asked.
Emerge USA did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The advocacy group has chapters in Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Texas but it’s unclear whether the calls were sent out in all of these locations.
The calls were sent out amid numerous reports of anti-Muslim hate crimes following Election Day.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s tracking, more than 700 hate crimes have been reported since Trump’s stunning election win, roughly 50 of which have been anti-Muslim.
“I think given that environment, it made us worry,” the call recipient said.