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California Muslim police officers allege harassment

police-officer-Mujaheed-Rasheedby Halima Kazem, Al Jazeera America

Patrolling around mosques and checking in on schools in the dangerous south side of town was second nature for Richmond, California, police officer Mujaheed Rasheed.

"I felt like I could talk to people who were at their lowest point and reach out to them," said Rasheed, who was born and raised just 30 miles south of Richmond in Hayward.

"Since I'm a Muslim, I could go into the mosques and connect with those members of our community," he said.

It's this kind of community policing efforts that Rasheed says made him want to join the Richmond police in December 2008. But today that enthusiasm has soured, because he says some department officials discriminated against him and that other police officers harassed him because he is Muslim. ...

Brice Hamack, Northern California civil rights coordinator for the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), an advocacy and civil rights groups, said he received four cases of Muslims who are in law enforcement complaining about discrimination and harassment because of their religion in the last year.

He said these cases can help identify a rogue manager or a small group within a department which instigate or perpetuate the discrimination. Still, even when dealing with a small group of problematic colleagues, reaching out is not easy.

"Calling me is a big step because the police culture is such that taking the complaint outside of the police department is a very big risk," said Hamack, who worked with Rasheed to file his complaint with the state but does not represent him in the case.

Retaliation within the ranks can be swift and painful. (Read more)

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