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CAIR Asks Federal Court in Mich. to Prohibit FBI, Border Agents from Interrogating Muslim Travelers About Religious Beliefs and Practices

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 5/29/2019) -The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today announced the filing of a Motion for a Permanent Injunction to end the federal government’s practice of interrogating select Muslim travelers about their religious beliefs and practices.  



The filing is a continuation of CAIR’s seven-year-old lawsuit, Cherri v. Wray, which challenges the federal government’s authority to interrogate Muslim citizens about their faith. It is brought on behalf of American Muslims who FBI and border agents have asked questions about how often they pray, whether they are Sunni or Shia, who their imam (religious leader) is, whether they consider themselves religious, and even whether they pray the morning prayer at a mosque. The lawsuit is pending before Judge Avern Cohn of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. 

“For more than a decade, official U.S. Government policy has targeted religion — specifically Islam — as a threat,” CAIR’s summary judgment filing explains. CAIR emphasized evidence obtained in discovery that, as of today, federal agents “determine threat levels by looking at how Muslim women wear their hijab.” CAIR’s brief urges the federal court to end these practices.  

In its filing, CAIR describes how the federal government has illegally used the religiosity of Muslim travelers as a proxy for the threat they pose to the United States. This has imposed harrowing experiences on Muslim travelers, during which they are detained and interrogated about their faith as they have moved across the U.S. border by land and air.  

SEE: Muslim Americans Interrogated at the Border

In 2017, this policy affected Muhammad Ali Jr, who was questioned about his religious beliefs by customs agents during a border detention.  

SEE: Muhammad Ali Jr. stands by claim he was asked ‘What religion are you?’ while detained by customs

“The FBI and CBP should not be interrogating Americans about their religious beliefs and practices,” said CAIR National Litigation Director Lena Masri. “The Constitution makes these senseless inquiries into a person’s faith illegal.”  

“The federal government’s faith-based targeting of Muslim travelers serves no legitimate legal purpose and should offend all Americans,” said CAIR-MI staff attorney Amy Doukoure. “The profiling, detention and religious interrogations of Muslims crossing the border must come to an immediate end.”

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.

La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.


CONTACT: CAIR National Litigation Director Lena Masri,, 202-742-6420; CAIR Senior Litigation Attorney Gadeir Abbas,, 720-251-0425; CAIR Trial Attorney Carolyn Homer,, 202-516-4724


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