“Am I speaking too fast? I have a tendency to do that,” says Aliya Latif from CAIR’s uptown office. It’s no wonder the civil-rights lawyer is in a rush: She fields complaints and asserts the rights of Muslim New Yorkers who have experienced discrimination. CAIR’s 33 national chapters processed exactly 2,467 incidents last year—“a 25.1 percent increase over the year before.”
The New Jersey native works on cases “that run the gamut from extremely egregious situations to more basic ones.” In one recent incident, a Muslim woman was denied her right to wear a head-covering in her DMV license photo (CAIR gave her an affidavit declaring that the law prohibits such treatment, and her application was processed), and in another, a Pakistani man was beaten by brass-knuckle-wearing, epithet-spewing youths in Brooklyn (his assailants were charged). “I don’t have a chance to think about burning out,” says Latif. “You just keep going, ’cause that’s what you have to do.”


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