Suspicious Activity? CAIR Reports on Muslim Civil Rights

06/20/07 Brandon Martin
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Intro: The Tampa Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, released their 12th Annual Report on the Status of Muslim Civil Rights in the United States. This report, entitled "Presumption of Guilt," analyzes the increase in reported anti-Muslim incidents up to 2006. Representatives of the ACLU were also present. For WMNF Brandon Martin reports.

Story: CAIR began documenting the status of Muslim civil rights in its annual reports after a rise in anti-Muslim incidents that occurred in regards to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. Of the 2,467 civil rights complaints reported to CAIR nationwide in 2006, 81% occurred in just 10 states. Ahmed Bedier, Executive Director of the Tampa Chapter of CAIR and host of WMNF's True Talk, hosted the unveiling of the report.

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Much the discrimination documented in recent years pertains to citizenship delay cases, or the naturalization delay for Americans, especially male Americans, perceived to be Middle Eastern or Muslim. The federal government's post-9/11 counter-terrorism policy, based mostly on the profiling of Arab and Muslim Americans, includes an expanded name-check system done by the FBI for naturalization applicants.

Ahmed Sheikh-Khalil, a nine-year resident of the U.S., speaker of three languages, and Doctor of Social Communications, has already cleared his background check, but has waited an overall 3-and-1/2 years for citizenship.

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Also included in the list of civil rights complaints are cases of workplace discimination and hate crimes. Bedier listed some incidents that occurred in Florida.

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Detention of Arab Muslims without due process of law is also included as a civil rights violation. Bedier gave the case of Palestinian Iyad Abu-Hajjaj of San Jose, who is currently in detention at a Wakulla County facility. After being reported for suspicious activity on a flight to Tampa, he was arrested and later cleared for a separate but minor charge. After being freed, he was arrested by federal Homeland Security authorities.

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Bedier cited a lack of education on Muslim and Arab culture in America as the cause for these hate crimes and overzealous restrictions on those of Arab Muslim descent.

Bedier also gave an update on the status of Sami-Al-Arian and his family.

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For more information on the report, visit CAIR's website at www.cair-net.org.

For WMNF, this is Brandon Martin.

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