Islamic groups warn US of backlash for seizing Iran-linked Shia mosques

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Washington, Nov. 13 (ANI): Islamic groups have warned the Obama administration that it would face backlash if the Shia'ite mosques, schools and building in New York City, Maryland, California and Houston, are seized.

"Whatever the details of the government's case against the owners of the mosques, as a civil rights organization we are concerned that the seizure of American houses of worship could have a chilling effect on the religious freedom of citizens of all faiths and may send a negative message to Muslims worldwide," said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

The chilling statement came as federal prosecutors moved to confiscate assets of Shia-dominant Alavi Foundation, which runs many Islamic institutions.

On Thursday, federal investigators filed a civil complaint to seize 500 million dollars assets of the foundation over their alleged financial aid to Iran.

It is extremely rare for US law enforcement authorities to seize a house of worship, a step fraught with questions about the constitutional right to freedom of religion.

Alavi Foundation's lawyer John D. Winter said the foundation intends to litigate the case and prevail. "Obviously the foundation is disappointed that the government has decided to bring this action," The Jerusalem Post quoted Winter, as saying.

The US has long suspected the foundation was an arm of the Iranian government, with involvement in foundation business by several top Iranian officials, including the deputy prime minister and ambassadors to the United Nations. (ANI)

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