Contact: Arsalan Iftikhar, 202-488-8787 or 202-415-0799; Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726; Rabiah Ahmed, 202-488-8787 or 202-439-1441, all of CAIR
WASHINGTON, Dec. 20 /U.S. Newswire/ -- A prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group today issued a travel advisory for Muslim citizens who will be attending a conference in Canada this weekend or participating in the upcoming Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca. (The Hajj will take place in the second week of January. Some 10,000 American Muslims go on Hajj each year.)
The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is concerned that American Muslim travelers returning to the United States will be singled out by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials for special security checks and fingerprinting based solely on their attendance at both religious events.
CAIR created a "Civil Rights Hotline" (1-800-784-7526) and a downloadable border incident report form for those who believe their constitutional rights have been violated by CBP personnel.
Last year, dozens of American Muslim citizens said they were targeted for security checks, fingerprinting and photographs based on their attendance at an Islamic conference in Canada. Many American Muslims will attend that same conference this year.
"Americans of all faiths should be free to travel without fear of being singled out based solely on their religious practices or associations," said CAIR Legal Director Arsalan Iftikhar.
Iftikhar said CAIR is asking those traveling to the conference or going on Hajj to download an incident report form from http://www.cair.com/downloads/borderincident.pdf and to keep it handy for the return trip to the United States.
He said anyone who believes their constitutional rights have been violated is urged to call CAIR's hotline at 1-800-784-7526. During business hours, the hotline number rolls over to CAIR's Washington, D.C., switchboard. After hours, a recording will give cell phone numbers for CAIR civil rights staff. CAIR's Civil Rights Department may also be reached by e-mailing: email@example.com. (CAIR's "Your Rights and Responsibilities as an American Muslim" pocket guide will also be distributed at the Toronto conference.)
CAIR, America's largest Muslim civil liberties group, has 31 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada.