A U.S. Muslim organization said Thursday it was monitoring the treatment of American Muslims returning from the hajj pilgrimage.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations said it would be organizing interviews with American Muslims who were coming home from the annual pilgrimage to Mecca “to spot-check their treatment by airport security personnel and border protection authorities.”

CAIR said an estimated 10,000-15,000 American Muslims went on the hajj to Mecca in Saudi Arabia this year. The group set up a toll-free hotline for travelers who felt that their civil rights had been ignored or over-riden.

The group noted that in December, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration announced it was giving special training about “Islamic traditions related to the hajj to some 45,000 airport security officers.”

CAIR said it was “concerned about an increase in reports of alleged profiling of Muslims at the nation’s airports.”

“Just last week, a German Muslim was barred from entering the United States, interrogated for some 12 hours, detained in a local jail for four days, and then sent out of the country, all without an explanation of the government’s actions,” the group said.

“We hope that the recent training about the Hajj offered to airport security officers will result in a hassle-free process for returning pilgrims,” said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad. “American Muslims believe in protecting both our nation’s security and the freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution, including the freedom to carry out the obligations of one’s faith without fear of discrimination.”

CAIR said its chapters across the United States had held discussions with U.S. government officials from the TSA, the Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection “on issues related to cultural sensitivity and national security.”


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