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CAIR Issues ‘Know Your Rights’ Advisory for Iranian-Americans, Others Impacted by US-Iran Crisis

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 1/6/2020) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today issued a “Know Your Rights” community advisory for Iranian-Americans, Syrian-Americans, Iraqi-Americans, and others who may be impacted by the threat of war of between the United States and Iran.

CAIR issued the advisory as a result of unsubstantiated speculation about possible Iranian attacks on American targets, including vague allegations about the threat of “sleeper cells” and the reported targeting of Iranian-Americans for special scrutiny at the U.S. border.

CAIR’s Washington state chapter (CAIR-Washington) is currently assisting Iranian-Americans who were reportedly detained at a border crossing this weekend and asked inappropriate questions about their political views on the situation in Iran.

NYT: U.S. Stops Dozens of Iranians Returning from Canada

Video: CAIR-WA Assists Iranian-Americans Detained at U.S. Border

CBP: Iranian-Americans, Iranians Subjected to 'Secondary Screenings' at Canadian border Crossing

In a statement, CAIR Senior Litigation Attorney Gadeir Abbas said:

“Policy-makers and opinion leaders should exercise caution at this tense and critical moment. We must not allow fear-mongering war rhetoric to endanger our fellow Americans, whatever their faith or heritage. 

“Any Iranian-Americans or others who experience harassment, travel delays, inappropriate law enforcement questioning, or other difficulties as a result of the rising tension between the United States and Iran should immediately contact CAIR for legal assistance.”

In November of last year, CAIR published “Know Your Rights” materials online in English, Arabic, Somali, Urdu, Farsi, Bengali, and Bosnian. The multi-language civil rights materials may be printed out for personal use or for distribution at local events.

SEE: Download “Know Your Rights” Guides in Arabic, Bengali, Bosnian, Farsi, Somali, Urdu, and English

CAIR recommends that community members follow advice offered in its “Your Rights with Law Enforcement” booklet, including:

“If you are visited by federal law enforcement agents, remember:

“You have the legal right to have a lawyer present when speaking with federal law enforcement agencies. This is true even if you are not a citizen or have been arrested or detained. This is your legal right. Refusing to answer questions cannot be held against you and does not imply that you have something to hide. Answering a question incorrectly can hurt you more than not answering at all. An attorney is best able to protect your rights.

“You do not have to permit any law enforcement officer to enter your home or office if they do not have a warrant. Law enforcement agents must have a search warrant, except in emergency situations, in order to enter your house. If they say they have a warrant, politely ask to see it before allowing them to enter. If they have a warrant, be courteous and polite, but remember that you are under no obligation to answer questions without a lawyer present. You should tell the agents that you do not consent to the search so that they cannot go beyond what the warrant authorizes.

“You should never lie or provide false information to any law enforcement agency. Lying to law enforcement agents under any circumstance is a federal crime.”

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 Litigation Director Gadeir Abbas, 720-251-0425,; CAIR Government Affairs Director Robert McCaw, 202-742-6448,; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726,



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