Muslims, Arabs in D.C. to Lobby for Civil Rights


As an emergency room doctor at Henry Ford Hospital, Zahid Sheikh spends much of his time thinking about how to take care of patients. But this weekend, the Pakistani-American physician will ponder another issue: civil rights.

Sheikh will join hundreds of other Pakistani immigrants, Muslims and Arab Americans on Capitol Hill today to lobby lawmakers. Their goal: convince legislators that Muslims and Arabs are being unfairly targeted.

"America is the greatest country in the world," said Sheikh of Sterling Heights. "But we should not give blanket power to the government. Otherwise there would be no difference between us and Third World countries."

Sheikh will be in Washington with the Association of Pakistani Physicians of North America, which was founded in Michigan. The group will work with the American Civil Liberties Union and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, whose Michigan chapter is sending members to Washington this weekend as well.

Also on Capitol Hill today will be members of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, which is holding its annual convention this weekend. It's the largest gathering of Arab Americans in the country. The committee's Michigan chapter will be sending more guests than any other state.

The groups have different makeups, but all will be asking legislators to pass the Civil Liberties Restoration Act, a bill that would ensure certain rights. The bill would limit the government's power to close immigration deportation hearings to the public by requiring a hearing in front of a judge before a case can be closed off. The bill also would require that anyone detained on immigration violations be charged within 48 hours and given the right to a fair bond hearing...

 


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