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American-Muslims sue federal agencies over improper religious questioning

The Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI) [advocacy website] announced Friday the filing of a lawsuit [press release] against three US agencies over the repeated detention and questioning of Muslims about their religious beliefs and practices by federal agents at the US-Canada border. CAIR-MI filed the lawsuit in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan [official website] on behalf of four Detroit-area Muslim-Americans, naming US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) [official websites] and two of its agents as defendants. The four plaintiffs, all American citizens traveling under full US passports, reported that CBP and FBI agents detained and handcuffed them without evidence of wrongdoing and questioned them about their religious beliefs and worship habits [AP report]. Executive Director Dawud Walid [CAIR-MI profile] held the press conference announcing the lawsuit:

The suit states that the agencies' actions violate the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 [Cornell LII backgrounders]. CAIR-MI filed the suit after filing several unaddressed complaints with the civil rights office of the Department of Homeland Security over the past year. In addition to improper detention and religious questioning, the lawsuit alleges inappropriate criminal treatment of the plaintiffs, including strip searches, invasive body searches, fingerprinting, and separating family members traveling together.

In January the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) [advocacy website] had a victory in Oklahoma when the US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit [official website] unanimously upheld [JURIST report] a ruling blocking the implementation of an Oklahoma constitutional amendment [text, PDF] that would have prohibited state courts from considering Islamic and international law in deciding cases. The amendment was originally blocked by a lawsuit brought by CAIR and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website], despite the amendment being approved by approximately 70 percent of Oklahoma voters [JURIST reports]. In August Dawud Walid and CAIR-MI advocated against a bill [JURIST report] passed by the Michigan House of Representatives [official website] that would ban Sharia law and other laws deemed "foreign." Walid claimed that Michigan had been falsely accused of having a sharia-controlled government, and condemned fear mongering regarding Sharia law.

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