Ahmed Sheikh-Khalil applied for citizenship about three years ago and passed the interview phase of his citizenship exam in March 2004.

He’s still not a citizen. When he calls to complain, he said, he is not told a legitimate reason why it is taking so long.

Sheikh-Khalil, 50, a Tampa car salesman who was born in Syria and lived in Cuba for 20 years, said the reason is obvious why his approval has been delayed: “I am sure that it’s my name. That’s it.”

He is one of a growing number of people who have told the Council on American-Islamic Relations that they have faced anti-Muslim harassment, discrimination and violence.

CAIR, a Muslim civil rights and advocacy group, held a press conference Wednesday to discuss the organization’s annual report released this month on the status of Muslim civil rights. The report shows 2,467 civil rights complaints made to CAIR nationally in 2006, with 168 coming from Florida. There were 55 complaints from the Tampa region.

“This is just a fraction of what’s probably out there,” Ahmed Bedier, executive director of CAIR’s Tampa chapter, said of the documented complaints.

CAIR reported 50 percent more complaints of anti-Muslim harassment, discrimination and violence in Florida in 2006 than it had the previous year.


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