Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
News, May 2011
Islamophobia in the US, May 5, 2011:
DHS to Probe Complaints on US-Canadian Border Questioning of Muslims
DHS to Probe CAIR-MI Complaints on Border Questioning of Muslims
(SOUTHFIELD, MI, 5/4/11) --
The Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI) today welcomed a decision by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) to launch an investigation into potential civil rights violations and profiling of Muslims by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel at the United States-Canada border.
On March 24, CAIR-MI filed complaints with both DHS and the Department of Justice (DOJ) seeking civil and potentially criminal investigations into dozens of reports from constituents who reported that CBP agents pointed firearms at them, detained and handcuffed them without predication of crimes or charges, and questioned them about their worship habits.
Questions reportedly asked of Michigan Muslims by CBP agents have included:
How many times a day do you pray? Do you pray your morning prayer in the mosque? Who else prays in your mosque?
Those detained by CBP agents report that the same questions are asked every time they crossed the border.
Video: Muslims Say They've Been Harassed at Border (CAIR)
In a letter to CAIR-MI Staff Attorney Lena Masri, DHS Officer for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Margo Schlanger wrote in part:
"The Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties received information from you on March 24, 2011, concerning repeated handcuffing, brandishing of weapons, prolonged detentions, invasive and humiliating body searches at the border, and inappropriate questioning that pertains to religion and religious practices by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel.
"Under 6 U.S.C. § 345 and 42 U.S.C. § 2000ee-1, the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties has the responsibility to review and assess complaints against Department of Homeland Security employees and officials concerning violations of civil rights, civil liberties, and profiling on the basis of race, ethnicity, or religion. CRCL has received a number of complaints like yours, alleging that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers have engaged in inappropriate questioning about religious affiliation and practices during border screening. We will add these complaints to the investigation we are opening on this subject. ...
"This Office takes allegations of violations of civil rights and civil liberties very seriously. The purpose of our review is to assess if your complaint implicates issues that should be addressed by Department of Homeland Security management."
"We welcome the Department of Homeland Security’s decision to launch an investigation into these disturbing allegations of civil rights violations and ethnic and religious profiling," said Masri.
CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
CAIR-MI Staff Attorney Lena Masri, 248-390-9784, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR-MI Executive Director Dawud Walid, 248-842-1418, E-Mail: email@example.com; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, or 202-488-8787, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, 202-341-4171, E-Mail: email@example.com
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