Notice to Third-Year Law Students and Recent Law School Graduates
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is seeking to provide fellowship opportunities for recent law school graduates at its national headquarters as a Government Watchlist Fellow, Prisoners’ Rights Fellow, or Privacy and Surveillance Fellow. These positions are unpaid. However, we are willing and able to assist qualified applicants as they seek funding from outside organizations or law schools.
- 3L or recent law school graduate.
- Preference given to candidates who can devote at least 20 hours per week.
- Strong legal research and writing skills.
- Excellent interpersonal and phone skills.
- Interest in civil rights and liberties work and issues affecting the American Muslim community.
- Preference given to students who have demonstrated a particular interest in constitutional law and/or federal litigation.
How to Apply:
- Download and fill out the CAIR application found online at http://www.cair.com/about-us/internships.html
- Email your application, resume, cover letter, and a writing sample to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Indicate the fellowship you are applying for in the subject line of your email.
- Indicate your availability and desired start date.
CAIR is a grassroots civil rights and advocacy organization. CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties organization, with regional offices nationwide. CAIR’s national headquarters is located on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
Since its establishment in 1994, CAIR has worked to promote a positive image of Islam and Muslims in America. Through media relations, government relations, legal work, education, and advocacy, CAIR puts forth an Islamic perspective to ensure the Muslim voice is represented. In offering this perspective, CAIR seeks to empower the American Muslim community, encourage their participation in political and social activism, and to protect their rights.
CAIR values a diverse and collaborative work environment. CAIR welcomes all individuals, and encourages all qualified applicants to apply regardless of religion, national origin, race, color, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status, citizenship, and disability status.
Government Watchlist Law Fellowship
According to recent reports, nearly half of the 690,000 people on the U.S. government’s database of terrorist suspects are not connected to any known terrorist group. Furthermore, according to the government’s watchlisting guidelines, officials need only “reasonable suspicion” to secretly place someone on the list; “concrete facts” are not required. Individuals placed on one of the government’s terrorist watchlists generally experience prolonged and intrusive screening, interrogation, and detention when traveling or are prohibited from boarding flights altogether. The rapidly expanding secretive terrorist watch list program not only raises serious concerns about ethnic and religious profiling, but also raises issues about due process under the U.S. Constitution.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is seeking a government watchlist law fellow to join the civil rights department of its national headquarters. The fellow will work closely with our team of attorneys to handle a variety of substantive legal tasks pertaining to the rapidly evolving field of national security law and the implications on the civil rights and liberties of all Americans, with particular focus on the constitutionality of terrorist watchlist designation procedures. The fellow will gain in-depth, practical legal experience by working with CAIR attorneys and clients on complex government terrorist watchlist related issues and high-profile federal constitutional litigation.
In particular, this work will include:
- Drafting legal memos, pleadings, motions, and briefs on unique issues of national security law relating to the designation of individuals on governmental watchlists and its implications for fundamental due process and other civil rights under the U.S. Constitution.
- Conducting in-depth legal research and analysis of cutting-edge issues of national import.
- Interviewing witnesses and potential clients.
- Developing a comprehensive understanding of the federal government’s terrorist watchlist program and assisting CAIR’s attorneys in developing successful legal strategies to challenge violations to constitutional rights of individuals aggrieved by their unfair designation on government watchlists.
Prisoners’ Rights Fellowship
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is seeking a prisoners’ rights fellow to join the civil rights department at its national headquarters. The fellow will work closely with our team of attorneys to handle a variety of substantive legal tasks pertaining to inmates’ religious practices in state and federal prisons. The fellow will gain in-depth and practical legal experience by working with CAIR attorneys to ensure that all inmates, regardless of religion, are allowed to observe and practice the religion of their choosing. The fellow’s responsibilities include:
- Drafting legal memos, pleadings, motions, and briefs on unique issues of religious freedom and inmates’ rights to practice their religion.
- Corresponding with inmates and conducting intakes to determine whether an inmate’s claim is actionable under the law and following up on potential claims and allegations through subsequent correspondence and interviews.
- Developing a comprehensive understanding of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, national prison policy, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, the Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses of the First Amendment, the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act, and the Prison Litigation Reform Act.
- Producing reports and white papers on nuanced issues of inmate rights to religious freedom, with the possibility of publication in law reviews or online.
Privacy and Surveillance Law Fellowship
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is seeking a privacy and surveillance law fellow to join the civil rights department of its national headquarters. The fellow will work closely with our team of attorneys to handle a variety of substantive legal tasks pertaining to the rapidly evolving field of constitutional privacy rights, with a focus on protecting the First and Fourth Amendment rights of all Americans in an era of pervasive surveillance. The fellow will gain in-depth, practical legal experience by working with CAIR attorneys on high profile federal constitutional litigation.
In particular, this work will include:
- Drafting legal memos, pleadings, motions, and briefs on unique issues of constitutional law relating to the protection of the privacy rights from overly broad and invasive governmental surveillance.
- Conducting in-depth legal research and analysis of cutting-edge issues of national import.
- Interviewing witnesses and potential clients.
- Developing a comprehensive understanding of the federal government’s means of mass electronic surveillance and assisting CAIR’s attorneys in developing successful legal strategies to curtail the overreach of the modern American security state.
Since CAIR’s founding in 1994, CAIR staff has worked tirelessly to advance the civil rights of all Americans, regardless of faith. Starting with just a small office and a telephone, CAIR has developed into the preeminent organization that Muslims contact when they require legal advice and assistance. CAIR has grown into a preeminent civil rights advocacy organization that has been recognized for its work both in the United States and internationally.
Even now, civil rights advocacy remains at the center of CAIR's work. CAIR has served more than 25,000 victims of discrimination since its founding. Our nation-wide offices receive a total of approximately 3,000 inquiries a years and work to resolve them through mediation, negotiation, public pressure or, if necessary, through legal action. Our services are often provided free of charge to the community.
In 2011, CAIR updated our "Know Your Rights and Responsibilities" pocket guide. This wallet-sized pamphlet provides details of your rights as an employee, student or airline passenger, and teaches the reader how to react to an anti-Muslim hate crime and what to do if you are contacted by law enforcement. CAIR provides these guides free of charge and has distributed more than 1 million copies since it was first written.
Please continue reading to find out more about the work that we do.
The majority of complaints received by CAIR's offices in 1999 consist of incidents of religious accommodation denial. Complaints about the lack of accommodation to Muslim prayer in schools and the workplace accounted for the largest portion of cases. Hijab related complaints came in second place, a marked change from previous years, which implies an increased tolerance toward Muslim women's attire by the American public.
Still, a survey of Muslim parents and students in the public school systems shows that the majority shy away from requesting religious accommodation. Accommodation policies in most school districts surveyed in this report do not adequately address most of the religious requirements of Muslim students, suggesting that the problem of accommodating Muslim students is more structural than incidental in nature.
At the workplace, there has been a modest change, with some corporations adjusting their policies to accommodate the religious practices of their employees. Still, incidents of discrimination recur even at places where education and moral persuasion in the past have led to successful resolution of discrimination complaints.
In public schools, there has been little progress in the form of policy initiatives by some school districts in favor of religious accommodation. Yet most school districts surveyed in this report do not address most Muslim concerns. Local Muslim communities ought to be more active in providing input to school boards, so that school district policies regarding religious accommodation address the needs of Muslim students. Also, Congress and the Department of Education may take appropriate initiatives to address the needs of minority students, similar to what government did when the Equal Access Act was passed and implemented dealing with concerns raised by religious conservative Christians.
Data gathered for this report demonstrate that Muslims in the United States are more apprehensive than ever about discrimination and intolerance. U.S. government actions after September 11, 2001, alone impacted more than 60,000 individuals. Muslims have charged that the government's actions violated the First and Fourth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution because they included ethnically and religiously-based interrogations, detentions, raids, and closures of charities.
In addition, the daily experiences of Muslims in schools, workplaces, public areas, and airports have often included incidents in which they were singled out, denied religious accommodation and otherwise discriminated against by reason of actual or perceived religion and ethnicity. In the past year CAIR received 1,516 complaints from community members, which represents a three-fold increase over the previous year. Individual claims reported directly to CAIR affected the lives of more than 2,250 people; most were subjected to incidents of bias-motivated harassment and violence. Unlike any other past crisis, the post-September 11 anti-Muslim backlash has been the most violent, as it included several murders.
Excluding the September 11 backlash incidents, this year's normal reporting period contains 525 valid complaints, up from 366 in 2000/2001--a 43 percent increase. These incidents included the termination or denial of employment because of religious appearance; the refusal to accommodate religious practices in the workplace, schools, and prisons; the singling out of individuals at airports because of their distinct names, appearances, and travel destination; the detention or interrogation of Muslims by federal and local authorities based on profiling criteria; and the denial of services or access to public accommodation facilities because of religious or ethnic identity. All of these experiences have common elements of setting religious and ethnic features of Muslim life or Muslim religious and political views apart from what is considered normal and acceptable. The fallout from the September 11 attacks continues to impact Muslim daily life in several ways, especially at airports and ports of entry. FBI agents and other local law enforcement authorities have sometimes responded to hearsay reports, and conducted raids and interrogations of legal immigrants and citizens. While the government has defended such actions as necessary for national security, none of these actions led to the arrest of terror suspects. Instead they disrupted the ability of thousands of Muslims to practice their religion freely, negatively impacted the careers and hopes of many individuals, and threatened democratic freedoms and the rule of law.
Two particularly encouraging developments are noteworthy. First, on April 3, 2002, a federal judge in Detroit, Michigan ruled that the Bush administration's policy of closed immigration hearings was unconstitutional. The ruling came in the case of Rabih Haddad, who had overstayed his immigration visa. In another case involving a hate crime, a Dallas, Texas jury convicted Mark Stroman for the murder of Vasudev Patel last October. Storman thought the Hindu man looked Middle Eastern and killed him to avenge the attacks on New York and Washington.
In 2002, Muslim community members in the United States reported 602 complaints of discrimination to CAIR. This represents a 15 percent increase over the previous year. More than any other year, the daily experiences of Muslims in schools, workplaces, public areas, airports, and in encounters with the courts, police and other government agencies included incidents in which they were profiled and singled out because of actual or perceived religious and ethnic identity. Anti-Muslim sentiment related to September the 11th has been cited in many reports. Never before had an international terrorist act had such a long-lasting impact on Muslim life in the United States.
When compared to the year preceding September 11th, this year's reports show a 64 percent increase. The fallout from September 11 continues to impact Muslim daily life, whether at schools, in the workplace or in general public encounters. Mistreatment at the hand of federal government personnel continue to be reported in substantial numbers. FBI agents and other local law enforcement authorities have sometimes responded to hearsay reports, and conducted questionable raids and interrogations.
In 2002, the Department of Justice has continued to take actions in the name of combating terrorism, when in fact they have targeted broadly Arabs and Muslims in this country. The investigation dragnet in 2002 included the special registration requirements that singled out students and visitors to America from Muslim-majority countries. Also, many Muslim homes and businesses were raided and private property seized pending investigation. Moreover, queries by some FBI agents about mosque membership lists and media reports about a proposed FBI counting of mosques raised widespread apprehension among community members who believed they were being scrutinized based on their religious association. Other profiling-based interrogations and searches continued throughout the year, though reported with less frequency than the few months immediately after September 11th. Critics of the government have charged that such actions violated the First and Fourth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
Singling out Muslims is increasing in all sectors of life. A significant number of cases took place at private businesses, places of residence, the Internet, and courts. Contributing to the rise of discrimination against Muslims is the continuing anti-Muslim rhetoric, especially by some evangelical leaders and neoconservatives. A segment of this report documents examples of their divisive language. The vilification of Islam and Muslims by such elements continues unabated.
Data gathered for this report demonstrates that Muslims in the United States are increasingly challenged by discrimination and intolerance. The daily experiences of Muslims in schools, workplaces, public areas, airports, and government agencies often include incidents in which Muslims are singled out, denied religious accommodation and otherwise discriminated against by reason of actual or perceived religion and ethnicity. This year's report contains 284 such cases, up from 240 in 1997--an 18 percent increase. All of these experiences have common elements of setting symbols, rituals and other unique features of Muslim life apart of what is considered normal, acceptable and tolerable in the dominant culture.
A decline in harassment and violence
Incidents of harassment and violence account for 36 cases, compared to 85 incidents in 1997. The decrease in the number of incidents can be attributed to the absence of events such as the crash of TWA Flight 800 or the Oklahoma City bombing. These tragic events were unfairly blamed on Muslims, and led to a surge of incidents of harassment and violence against Muslims in the United States.
A rise in discrimination
This report documents 248 incidents of discrimination--a 60 percent increase over the previous year. These incidents include the termination or denial of employment because of religious appearance; the refusal to accommodate religious practices in the workplace, schools and prisons; the singling out of individuals at airports because of their distinct names, appearances and travel destination; and the denial of service or access to public accommodation facilities because of religious or ethnic identity.
Sources of bias
Many cases described in this report indicate that ignorance of Islam and its religious practices continues to be a major factor contributing to the mistreatment of Muslims. Another major factor is outdated corporate policies that do not take into account the needs of the rising Muslim population in the workforce. Some corporations have recognized this fact and implemented new policies to insure the free exercise of religion in the workplace. One example is a decision by Stream International in Dallas, Texas, to assign a room for employees to pray. Another example is an initiative by American Industry in Nashville, Tennessee, to institute a "floating break" as a mechanism allowing workers to attend Friday prayer at a mosque.
Private sector companies may decide to adopt an initiative similar to President Clinton's 1997 guidelines on the accommodation of religious practice in the federal workplace. In this initiative the president specifically recognized the right of a woman to wear hijab (loose-fitting clothing with a head covering that Muslim women wear in public) and advised government offices to accommodate this and other religious practices of Muslims and people of other faiths.
Not all government initiatives have promoted tolerance in the past year. American Muslims are apprehensive about community members held under so-called secret evidence procedures. Also, the Computerized Automated Passenger Screening (CAPS--known as passenger profiling), initiated by the White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security, may prove to be an institutionalized form of discrimination. Exchanges between travelers and airline representatives and narrations of passengers' experiences illustrate that ethnic and religious stereotyping can be a problem in the profiling procedure.
Another major source of discrimination is the bias against religion in general and Islam in particular. Muslims have been portrayed as the "other," often leading to biased behavior by persons in positions of authority as well as by members of the public. CAIR recently published educational booklets, An Employer's Guide to Islamic Religious Practices and An Educator's Guide to Islamic Religious Practices, which helped in the resolution and/or prevention of several discrimination cases--a indication that changes in public perception are attainable through the constructive exchange of ideas.
Last year marked the highest number of Muslim civil rights cases ever recorded by CAIR's annual report on the status of Muslim civil rights in the United States. Reports of harassment, violence and discriminatory treatment increased nearly 70 percent over 2002 (the year after the 9/11 terror attacks). This represents a three-fold increase since the reporting year preceding the terrorist attacks.
Although reports of abuse in areas of passenger profiling and unreasonable arrest, search and seizure have dropped significantly, incidents of hate crime have more than doubled. Also, allegations of mistreatment by federal and local law enforcement personnel (including profiling and discriminatory application of the law) accounted for a third of all reports, the highest record ever in real and proportionate terms.
Five factors contributed to the sharp increase in reported incidents:
- A lingering atmosphere of fear since the 9/11 attacks.
- The war in Iraq and the atmosphere created by the pro-war rhetoric.
- The noticeable increase of anti-Muslim rhetoric, which often painted Muslims as followers of a false religion and as enemies of America.
- The USA PATRIOT Act, the implementation of which has been associated with abuses.
- Increased reporting by community members, due to the increase in the number of CAIR offices, allowing more cases to be documented in 2003 than in previous years.
CAIR recommends a number of governmental actions be taken in order to stem the rise of anti-Muslim discrimination. These recommendations include a call for a public inquiry to post-9/11 policies impacting the Muslim community and a call for implementing reforms suggested by the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Justice regarding post-9/11 investigations and detentions. Also, a number of legislative actions are suggested to curb the use of profiling in law enforcement, strengthen hate crime prosecutions and end abuses associated with the USA PATRIOT Act.
American Muslims are increasingly concerned about their recognition in society and about the ability to freely practice their faith. As this report indicates, Muslims experienced 240 acts of, discrimination violence and harassment in the last twelve months, a threefold increase over the previous year. These incidents ranged from Muslim women being fired or denied jobs because of their religious garb, to harassment of Muslims at the nation’s airports, other public facilities, schools, and government agencies because of the persons’ apparent religious affiliation. There is also a lack of religious accommodation in the military and the prison system. In relative terms, claims of discrimination and bias increased from 50 percent of the total experiences in 1995/1996 to 65 percent in 1996/1997, while reports of incidents of violence and harassment declined from 50 percent to 35 percent.
The majority of the experiences documented in the report deal with how public perceptions influenced acts of bias. Such experiences appear to be associated with three identifying factors whereby a person’s religious, ethnic, or group affiliation became “known.” Chief among these is religious practice (significant in 53 percent of the cases), which includes Muslim women wearing a head covering, or men wearing a beard and kufi (a cap worn by Muslim men). The other identifying factors are ethnicity (significant in 32 percent of the cases)—physical features or a “Muslim-sounding” name—and association with the Muslim community through sociopolitical activism (significant in 14 percent of the cases).
American Muslims are becoming more willing to defend their rights. Across the United States, Muslims are establishing precedents for religious diversity in the workplace, in schools, in government institutions, and even in the military. In some cases, these precedents are being established in the courts, including a case of a Muslim worker in California who was recently awarded about $3 million in a discrimination law suit. As a result of this increased level of activism, about 10 percent of the experiences discussed in this report represent victories in the American Muslim community’s quest for tolerance, justice and religious freedom.
The backgrounds of individuals taking their experiences to government and nongovernment agencies reflect the diverse nature of the American Muslim community. Individuals of Middle Eastern descent make up the largest segment (45 percent) of those taking action to redress their claims, followed by Africans/African-Americans (25 percent) and then by people whose families originated in Southwest Asia (17 percent) and Europe (8 percent).
Evidence presented in the Case Summaries section of this report will demonstrate that the largest number of claims centered on fair employment practices and religious accommodation in the workplace. It is also in the work setting that American Muslims have been most able to win recognition of their religious rights.
A RUSH TO JUDGMENT
A Special Report on Anti-Muslim Stereotyping, Harassment and Hate Crimes Following the Bombing of Oklahoma City’s Murrah Federal Building, April 19, 1995
Council on American-Islamic Relations
Within hours of the April 19, terrorist attack on the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, media reports and self-proclaimed “terrorism experts” linked Muslims, Arabs and “Middle Eastern-looking men” to the blast. This unsubstantiated linkage prompted stereotyping, harassment and actual attacks on Muslims and Arab-Americans around America.
These incidents mainly took the form of: 1) numerous threatening phone calls, including bomb threats, to mosques and Islamic centers; 2) verbal abuse directed at Muslims who appeared in public; 3) harassing behavior by co-workers; 4) direct physical attacks such as rock-throwing, beatings and shootings. In addition, two mosques were set on fire; one of these incidents has been officially ruled arson by fire investigators.
From these reported incidents CAIR has identified two alarming trends:
(1) A growing anti-Muslim prejudice has caused Muslims to experience an increased sense of alienation; and (2) numerous incidents of anti-Muslim violence that target highly visible Muslim institutions and easily recognizable Muslims, especially mosques and women who wear the traditional Islamic
hijab (dress covering the head and the body, with the exception of the face and hands).
To reduce the anti-Muslim sentiment documented in this report, CAIR makes the following recommendations: (1) That Congress and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights hold hearings to investigate the extent and severity of the anti-Muslim sentiment in the country, the causes of such prejudice, and its implication for civil rights legislation. In particular CAIR urges Congress to add “persons targeted for their religious and/or ethnic attire” to the categories of persons and federally protected activities covered by the Civil Rights Statute. (2) That the media exercise restraint when reporting developments of emotionally-charged events. Much of the stereotyping and defamation of innocent Muslim citizens and residents could have been avoided if reporters had applied basic standards of journalism. (3) That police departments and Muslim communities establish better channels of communication so Muslims and Arabs feel comfortable coming forward to report their experiences of bias and hate crimes.
Read the 1995 civil rights report, A Rush to Judgment.
The Price of Ignorance
April 19, 1995, marked a turning point in the American Muslim experience. On that day, and for some days thereafter, Muslims were blamed for the devastating attack on the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. This unfounded accusation led to numerous incidents of anti-Muslim harassment and violence. Because of that terrible experience came the decision to publish a report each year on Muslim civil rights in the United States. This document, entitled “The Price of Ignorance,” is the first such report.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) recorded some 300 anti-Muslim incidents in the year following the Oklahoma City bombing. In addition to bias and bias crimes, Muslims experienced discrimination and intolerance. The trend that developed throughout the year was alarming: reports of verbal abuse and threats of violence decreased from 95 percent to less than 30 percent, while reports of actual violence and discrimination increased from 5 percent to more than 70 percent.
A profile of the Muslim victims indicates they come from a variety of ethnic, attitudinal, and political backgrounds. A majority of the victims took some action to restore their rights. However, some 40 percent took no corrective action, primarily because these Muslims had no legal or financial resources.
Ironically, anti-Muslim incidents increased in a year of overall positive developments for the American Muslim community. This progress was characterized by increased local and national recognition of the growth of Islam in America. However, as Muslims became more visible, old hatreds and negative stereotypes came to the surface.
Anti-Muslim sentiment seemed to thrive on the American public’s general ignorance of Islam and the American Muslim experience. American Muslims, as well as people of other faiths, pay a high price for this communication breakdown, especially with regard to missed opportunities for mutual understanding.
To deal with this lack of information and its negative impact, the Muslim community must expand effective programs designed to educate and reach out to other segments of American society. Also, leaders of other faiths must also recognize this emerging national problem, and publicly condemn anti-Muslim prejudice. Tolerating bigotry will only serve to harm the entire society.