Press Releases

CAIR-MN Welcomes Federal Agreement on Harassment of Somali Students

(MINNEAPOLIS, MN, 4/13/11) — The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) today welcomed a federal agreement to deal with the bias-motivated harassment of Somali students in some of that state’s public schools.
For the past year, CAIR-MN has worked with the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to address issues of racial, religious and national origin discrimination in the Owatonna Public School District.
SEE: District, Feds Reach Agreement (Owatonna People’s Press)
Owatonna Schools, Feds Settle Somali Case (Star Tribune)
Feds, Owatonna School District Reach Settlement Addressing Racial Tensions (MPR)
Owatonna Settles Probe Into Somali Harassment (AP)

CAIR-MN’s request for federal intervention came following a series of anti-Muslim incidents reported to the civil rights organization by Somali students.
In May 2010, CAIR-MN organized a community town hall at the Islamic Center of Owatonna with representatives from the DOJ to address issues of discrimination.
SEE: Racial Tension Running High After Fight at Owatonna High School (Star Trib)

CAIR-MN also asked the DOE to investigate allegations of harassment against Somali students in St. Cloud high schools. That investigation is ongoing.
“We appreciate the commitment of federal officials to creating a safe learning environment for all students in our state’s schools,” said CAIR-MN President Lori Saroya. “We are confident this agreement will help the students, the district and the wider community in their efforts to challenge religious and ethnic discrimination.”
Saroya said the federal agreement ensures the school’s compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and outlines an action plan to create an environment in which students are protected from harassment.
The agreement calls on the school district to take steps such as issuing an anti-harassment statement, retaining a consultant to study and determine steps needed to effectively respond to harassment, reviewing and revising harassment-related policies and procedures, organizing staff trainings on reporting incidents of harassments, and submitting monitoring reports to federal agencies for the next three years.
SEE: Resolution Agreement

CAIR offers a booklet, called “An Educator’s Guide to Islamic Religious Practices,” designed to help school officials provide a positive learning environment for students of all faiths.

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.

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CONTACT: CAIR-MN President Lori Saroya, 612-327-6700, E-Mail:; CAIR-MN Civil Rights Director Taneeza Islam, Esq., 651-587-4712, E-Mail:; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, E-Mail:; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-341-4171, E-Mail:


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