BUFFALO – An Islamic civil rights group accused United States border agents on
Wednesday of religious profiling after dozens of American Muslims were
searched, fingerprinted and photographed while returning from a religious
conference in Toronto.
Some of those stopped said they were held at the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge for
six hours or more with no explanation.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border
Protection bureau, Kristie Clemens, said that agents had detained anyone who
said they attended the three-day convention, titled “Reviving the Islamic
Spirit.” She said that such gatherings could be a means for terrorists to
promote their cause.
Galeb Rizek, 32, who was born in the United States and attended the
conference, said that being detained, “you really feel like a criminal, and you
haven’t done anything wrong.”
The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations demanded an
investigation by Homeland Security officials.
“The image of a room full of American Muslim citizens apparently being held
solely because of their faith and the fact that they attended an Islamic
conference is one that should be disturbing to all Americans who value
religious freedom,” said Nihad Awad, the council’s executive director