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CAIR-Ohio Lawsuit Seeks Court Order to Compel U.S. State Department to Renew Passport

(COLUMBUS, OH, 9/3/2020) – The Ohio chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Ohio) today filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of a Khalif Abukar, an American Muslim of Somali origin who applied to renew his passport and whose application has been pending without reason for nearly three years.

CAIR-Ohio’s lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court in Southern District of Ohio. 

The lawsuit states in part: 

“Defendant has denied Plaintiff his constitutionally protected liberty interest to travel, without due process, in violation of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.” 

In 2017, Abukar filed for a routine passport renewal. His mother was terminally ill and he wanted to go to Somalia to visit her. Months passed without a new passport or an explanation for the delay. Abukar contacted the U.S. State Department dozens of times and even sought assistance from the office of U.S. Senator Rob Portman to no avail. No one could give Abukar an answer. 

Tragically, Abukar’s mother passed away before he was able to visit her. Without his passport, Abukar was unable to attend her funeral service. The government’s refusal to renew Abukar’s passport has also kept him from visiting his four young children and his siblings who live in Kenya. 

After three years without answers, Abukar turned to CAIR-Ohio for help.  

In a statement, CAIR-Ohio Executive Director Romin Iqbal said: 

“The U.S. government has an obligation to provide passports to citizens to allow them to travel freely. This lawsuit seeks to challenge the unchecked practice of denying these individuals their constitutionally-protected right to travel for no justifiable reason.” 

Ohio Muslims facing similar delays are urged to contact CAIR-Ohio for assistance by filing an incident report online

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

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CONTACT: CAIR-Ohio Executive Director Romin Iqbal, Esq., 614-783-7953, riqbal@cair.com; CAIR-Ohio Staff Attorney Lina Abbaoui, Esq., 614-982-0879, labbaoui@cair.com; CAIR-Ohio Civil Rights Associate Maryam Abidi, J.D., 419-708-4801, mabidi@cair.com

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