A pioneer of Pittsburgh’s Muslim community filed a federal lawsuit today against the U.S. Department of Energy and its head, claiming the agency unjustly suspended then revoked his national security clearance — which cost him his job as a nuclear physicist.

Dr. Moniem El-Ganayni, 57, of Highland Park claims the Energy Department acted against him because he is Muslim and has publicly criticized America’s war in Iraq and the local FBI’s treatment of Muslims. He filed a 29-page lawsuit in U.S. District Court, Downtown.

Egyptian-born El-Ganayni charges that Energy Department and Acting Deputy Secretary Jeffrey F. Kupfer in May “invoked national security solely to shield the agency from having to disclose the unconstitutional retaliatory and discriminatory reasons for the clearance revocation.”

The lawsuit accuses the agency and Kupfer of violating El-Ganayni’s constitutional rights to free speech and to not be discriminated against for his ethnicity or religion.

The Energy Department suspended El-Ganayni’s security clearance in December, which he claims cost him his job as a physicist with Bettis Laboratory, where he worked since 1990. The West Mifflin facility works on the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program, a joint Navy-Energy Department program responsible for U.S. nuclear-powered warships.

El-Ganayni’s job required a security clearance so he could access certain classified information. He claims he never received a poor job evaluation in his 17 years with the company.

El-Ganayni came to the United States in 1980 and later helped to found the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh. He served as an imam to Muslim inmates in Ohio and at the state prison in Forest County.

He is married to an American and has been a citizen since 1988. He earned a master’s degree in nuclear physics and doctorate in atomic physics, both from the University of Pittsburgh. (MORE)


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