Press Releases

CAIR-MN Seeks Probe of Possible Profiling at MSP Airport

(ST. PAUL, MN, 11/28/2007) – The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) today called on U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to investigate an allegation of profiling at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
A Minnesota Muslim reported to CAIR-MN that she was detained by two U.S. Immigration and Customs officials and harassed by their supervisor as she re-entered the U.S. after a 10-day trip to a conference in Istanbul, Turkey.
She reported that as she passed through the customs area, she was questioned about her heritage, including questions about her parents’ place of birth. The woman refused to answer on the grounds that questions about her parents and heritage were irrelevant to her travels and activities abroad or in the United States.
“This line of questioning creates the perception of racial and religious profiling,” said CAIR-MN Executive Director Omar Merhi. “Questions about the birthplace of an American citizen’s parents insinuate that due to one’s heritage, he or she might be a person worthy of suspicion.”
In addition to the questioning, several inappropriate comments were allegedly made by the supervisor regarding the woman’s heritage. The comments allegedly included: “Heritage has everything to do with [your] travels. It has to do with upbringing and values.” The supervisor also asked if any items in her carry-on luggage had religious significance.
After her luggage was searched, and without answering the questions pertaining to her parents, she was finally cleared to enter the country.
CAIR, America’s largest Muslim civil liberties group, has 33 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. 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.

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CONTACT: CAIR-MN Executive Director Omar Merhi, 651-645-7102 or 612-702-0590, E-Mail:; CAIR-MN Communications Director Valerie Shirley, 763-226-5866, E-Mail:; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail:


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