Press Releases

CAIR Files Suit on Behalf of American Muslim Subjected to ‘White Torture’ at U.S. Port of Entry

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 9/12/17) — The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today announced that it filed a lawsuit against unidentified U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers on behalf of an American Muslim student who was subjected to “white torture” and subsequent denial of medical treatment in Detroit, Mich. 

SEE: CAIR Lawsuit on Behalf of American Muslim Subjected to ”˜White Torture’

“White torture” is a form of physical and psychological torture that involves extreme sensory deprivation and insolation. The United States has been accused previously of using white torture against prisoners at its Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

When attempting to return to the United States through the Ambassador Bridge Port of Entry, the Muslim student was allegedly handcuffed and isolated in a freezing cold cell with bright lights without his jacket and shoes.

Despite his repeated pleas for medical treatment, it was not until after he felt his body “was shutting down” and he fell unconscious that the unidentified CBP officers finally called for an ambulance to take him to the hospital, only to be handcuffed to the ambulance bed.

The lawsuit states that the Muslim student was subjected to this form of cruel and unusual punishment because he was placed on the Terror Screening Database — a watch list of “known or suspected terrorists” — without due process.

CAIR’s lawsuit, which was filed in the United States District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, alleges cruel and unusual punishment and denial of medical treatment in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Last week, a federal judge allowed a lawsuit to move forward that the Muslim organization filed on his behalf, and on behalf of 24 American Muslims, challenging his placement on the federal watch list. CAIR’s lawsuit, the broadest-ever challenge to the federal watch list, is the first to be allowed by a federal judge to move forward to challenge the selectee component of the federal watch list.

SEE:  Federal Judge Allows CAIR Suit Challenging Constitutionality of Terror Watch List to Move Forward

“Our government’s use of white torture against innocent American Muslims who have never been charged with a crime is unconscionable and unacceptable by any standard,” said CAIR Litigation Director Lena Masri.

“What happened in this case is happening to Muslim travelers with alarming regularity,” said Senior Litigation Attorney Gadeir Abbas. “Our lawsuit seeks to hold accountable the government officials who contribute to making ”˜traveling while Muslim’ so treacherous.”

The Washington-based civil rights organization said it has witnessed an unprecedented increase in hate incidents targeting American Muslims and members of other minority groups since the election of Donald Trump.

CAIR asks community members to report any bias incidents to police and to CAIR’s Civil Rights Department at 202-742-6420 or by filing a report at:  

Because of the rise in hate incidents, CAIR recently launched an app to share critical “know your rights” information and to simplify the process to report hate crimes and bias incidents.

For a quick download of CAIR’s civil rights app, click here:

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

La misión de CAIR es mejorar la comprensión del Islam, fomentar el diálogo, proteger las libertades civiles, capacitar a los musulmanes estadounidenses, y construir coaliciones que promuevan la justicia y la comprensión mutua.

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CONTACT: CAIR National Litigation Director Lena Masri, 248-390-9784,; CAIR Senior Litigation Attorney Gadeir Abbas, 720-251-0425,; CAIR-MI Executive Director Dawud Walid, 248-842-1418,; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726,


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