“We don’t prosecute people for the First Amendment,” he said. “In fact, this event is promoting the First Amendment for all people -- not only to exercise their religion, but to express their freedom of speech regardless of what it is.”
But the big question is where free speech might cross the line and violate federal civil rights laws.
“Could an Internet posting or letter in the mail or a phone call or a personal confrontation constitute a violation of those statutes,” he asked, citing 18 US Code 241 and 18 US Code 245. “Yes, it could.”
So what about the lawmaker who posted the photograph of the shotgun? Would that be a violation of federal law?
“I don’t know whether it does or not,” Killian said. “We’re treating that as if it were offensive conduct and trying to use this event as we have on many other occasions in the district -- utilize events of this nature to have people understand the Muslim religion and the Arab and Muslim people.”
Miller said the government’s explanation is problematic.
“It doesn’t make anybody here locally feel any better,” he said. “It seems as though they are creating a sacred group here that consistently gets attention from the federal government.”
“It’s interesting the Department of Justice and Homeland Security really seem to take up the banner for the Muslim population,” Miller said. “Why aren’t they having one for the Baptists? Why aren’t they having one for the Methodists? Why aren’t they having one for Jews?”
And Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group, believes the Obama administration is using federal law to protect Muslims from criticism, Politico reports.
“In its latest effort to protect followers of Islam in the U.S., the Obama Justice Department warns against using social media to spread information considered inflammatory against Muslims, threatening that it could constitute a violation of civil rights,” the group wrote online.