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Civil Rights Update – 9/09/05

The Civil Rights Department at CAIR-Chicago currently has 187 cases documented in which 94 cases are active and are being pursued by department personnel. Below are the cases that were reported to CAIR-Chicago within the last two weeks.

Hate Crimes:

  • Two young Muslim boys were brutally attacked by several teenaged boys from a nearby suburb. Racist comments were made to the boys at a carnival by the group of teens. The boys left the carnival in fear of an attack but were followed by the group and were brutally beaten at a gas station. Only three of the teenagers were charged on battery. CAIR-Chicago is investigating the incident to determine why the attackers were not charged with a hate crime and will take any actions it deems appropriate to resolving the issue.

  • A Muslim family’s hedges were burned outside their home during the night. Local police and fire department responded to the fire immediately and are investigating the situation. CAIR-Chicago will follow up with the police department and ensure that the possibility that the arson was a hate crime will be thoroughly investigated.

  • A woman was retaliated against and threatened by co-workers when she refused to lie to investigators about anti-Arab and anti-Muslim comments made by her co-workers at a local courthouse. After having been specifically told by her supervisor to lie to investigators about the incident, the woman chose to tell investigators the truth and has since then received threats and has been retaliated against by her supervisor and co-workers. CAIR-Chicago was responsible for issuing the investigation into the conduct of the courthouse employees and will continue to advocate for an honest investigation into the matter as well as advocate on behalf of the employee that has suffered retaliation as a result of coming forward with the truth to investigators.

  • A Muslim police officer was subjected to harassment by colleagues since the 9-11 attacks. After having filed a complaint to the city, he was retaliated against by the police department he complained against. CAIR-Chicago is working with the man’s attorney to file a suit against the police department.
  • A Muslim store owner was subjected to racist and derogatory comments made by a public official visiting the store. CAIR-Chicago is investigating the incident and will take any action it deems appropriate to resolving the issue.
  • Eight more Muslims have reported delays in their citizenship process, having applied for their citizenship and passing all necessary USCIS requirements, but have been waiting for citizenship status do to pending background checks. The cases are being dealt with as a part of a nation-wide CAIR project in collaboration with the Arab American Action Network (AAAN). For more information on this project, see the “Religious Discrimination Delays Citizenship Process” action alert below.

  • A Muslim woman went to interview for public housing and was asked questions about Arabic writing on her clothing. She was then asked if she would be “Muslim while living there” and was eventually denied housing. CAIR-Chicago is investigating the incident and will take any action it deems appropriate to resolve the issue.

  • A Muslim man has been summoned to appear before a Grand Jury by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI). CAIR-Chicago will aid the man in obtaining legal representation before answering any questions or subjecting to any interviews.

  • A Muslim family, including a grand-mother in her sixties, were arrested when a local police officer found their young adolescent son playing with fireworks. A neighbor who witnessed the arrest said that the police officers were making racist comments towards the parents and grand-mother, who spoke little English, and using excessive force. “Learn to speak English” and “I’m sick of dealing with these people,” were heard by the neighbor to be uttered by the police officers as they were tackling the mother and grand-mother of the children to the ground to make the arrest.

  • A police officer investigating a minor car accident made offensive comments to a Muslim man involved in the accident after the Muslim man had pointed the officer to an independent witness of the accident willing to come forward. CAIR-Chicago will aid the family in filing a complaint against the officer involved.

  • Federal agents contacted a Muslim man for questioning. As is the general advice given by CAIR-Chicago, anyone who is contacted by government officers for questioning is entitled to and should seek legal representation. CAIR-Chicago informed the family to contact us if they are approached for questioning by federal agents again.

  • A Muslim man with citizenship status was detained upon reentry into the United States for approximately a half hour as federal agents asked him questions about where he stayed abroad such as, “how many Muslims live in your village” and “Did you go to the mosque.” For more information on work that CAIR-Chicago is doing on detainments such as this, please see the “Muslim Americans Detained and Questioned When Traveling Outside the U.S.” action alert below.

  • Federal agents contacted a Muslim woman for questioning. The family obtained a legal representative and will update CAIR-Chicago after the interview has taken place.
Public Accomodation:
  • A Muslim man has been kept from wiring money to his family back home due to refusal from his banks. The banks have refused to point to him the written policy behind their decision to deny the wire transfer. CAIR-Chicago will contact the banks involved and take any appropriate action to resolve the issue.
Ongoing Progress:
  • CAIR-Chicago successfully settled an employment discrimination complaint through Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Mediation.

  • CAIR-Chicago met with the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois (ACLU-Illinois), the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago (CIOGC), and the Muslim Bar Association (MBA) to discuss an ACLU class action law suit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for their inadequate policies concerning the reentry of Muslim U.S. citizens from abroad into the U.S., when those citizens have names similar to someone else on a government watch list. For more information on the class action law suit, and to see if you can get involved, please see the “Muslim Americans Detained and Questioned When Traveling Outside the U.S.” action alert below.

  • CAIR-Chicago met with the Arab American Action Network at the CAIR-Chicago office to develop strategies for the next phase of the Citizenship Delay Project. The next phase of the project will include a political/media campaign to raise awareness and garner public support, legal remedies for the dozens of cases that have been reported to both organizations on the issue, outreaching to the Muslim community to spread awareness on the issue, and a publication that will detail the course of the project and the findings of research and investigation on the issue. For more information on the Citizenship Delay Project, please see the “Religious Discrimination Delays Citizenship Process” action alert below.


Muslim Americans Detained and Questioned When Traveling Outside of the U.S.:

As part of a potential class action law suit, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and CAIR-Chicago is asking anyone who has been detained and questioned at the U.S./Canadian border to please contact

The facts of the above case are as follows:

A Muslim American man says he has been searched and questioned four times while trying to re-enter the country from trips abroad, even though he had proper identification. The man was held for six hours last month as officials at a U.S. checkpoint in Canada questioned him about the September 11th terrorist attacks. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is representing the man and says they have heard similar complaints from other Muslim Americans.

Have a Complaint Against the DHS?:

CAIR-Chicago will be meeting with representatives of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), and the Attorney General’s Office as a part of periodic Community Leadership Liaison Group meetings. If you have any issues or incidents pertaining to the DHS, FBI or Attorney General’s Office that you would like presented at this meeting, please contact Christina Abraham at or 312-212-1520 as soon as possible.

Religious Discrimination Delays Citizenship Process:

As a joint effort with the Arab American Action Network (AAAN), CAIR-Chicago is asking individuals who passed a citizenship examination and have been waiting for over 90 days, or have been waiting for a Green Card for permanent residence for over 90 days to contact us at either or

Religious Discrimination at Standardized Testing Centers:

As part of a potential class action law suit, CAIR-Chicago is asking for anyone who has experienced any form of religious discrimination at a testing center to please contact us at An example of a possible form of religious discrimination includes requiring or requesting the removal of a headscarf for searches, or discriminatory remarks made by employees about Muslims or Islam.

The facts of the above case are as follows:

A Muslim student was asked to remove her headscarf on two separate occasions at a testing center before she began a standardized test required for graduate school. The supervisor and employees of the testing center refused to show her a written copy of the policy requiring Muslim women wearing a headscarf to be searched. A witness at the testing center also observed the employees making discriminatory remarks about Muslims while the victim was taking the test.

Please let us know if you or someone you know have experienced a similar incident and would like to take action to prevent such forms of religious discrimination at standardized testing centers in the future.

Vandalized Property in the North-Side

In the past several months several Muslim families from the north-side of Chicago and the northern suburbs have had property vandalized by unknown perpetrators in the late hours of the night. If you or someone you know has had property vandalized, and feel that you may have been the target of a hate crime, please contact

Talented, skilled, and devoted interns are requested to apply to CAIR-Chicago. Areas needed include: operations, communications, civil rights, grant research, public education, and community service. Please contact Dina Rehab for more information at

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Announcing New Board Member
The CAIR-Chicago family - board, staff, interns & volunteers - is proud to welcome aboard new board member, Hina Sodha. Hina Sodha is a Chicago attorney working for the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago. She has a demonstrated record of serving the Chicago Muslim community since her early days of activism.

While attending DePaul University’s College of Law, Hina worked with the Lawyer’s Committee for Better Housing, an organization which represents low-income tenants in eviction cases. She also addressed immigration issues as an extern at the Legal Assistance Foundation and spent her third year representing asylum seekers at DePaul University’s Legal Clinic.

IT Talent Wanted
If you have strong HTML skills, good graphics skills, and are interested in web development, please contact us at 312 212 1520 or email us at Please specify if you are interested in volunteering (2-10 hours) or interning (10-20 hours).
Journalism Talent Wanted
If you are a journalism student or someone who is interested in covering news, commenting on issues, or interviewing people, then please contact us at 312 212 1520 or email us at CAIR-Chicago can provide you with a heavily-visited forum through which you can share your work. Please specify if you are interested in volunteering (2-10 hours) or interning (10-20 hours).

Executive Director
Yaser Tabbara

Director of Communications
Ahmed Rehab

Civil Rights Coordinator
Christina Abraham

Outreach Coordinator
Dina Rehab

Operations Coordinator
Shyema Azam

Board of Directors
Shakeela Hassan, MD
Alim Elliott Khan
Mazen Kudaimi, MD
Alif Muhammad
Ahmed Rehab
Zaher Sahloul, MD
Hina Sodha, Esq.
Yaser Tabbara, Esq. - Secretary
Safaa Zarzour, Esq. - President

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For more information, please contact:

CAIR-Chicago (A Chapter of The Council On American-Islamic Relations)
28 E. Jackson Blvd, Suite 405, Chicago IL 60604
Phone: 312-212-1520, Fax: 312-212-1530
Email:, Website:

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The Chicago Activist is a publication of CAIR-Chicago
17 N. State St., Suite 1500, Chicago IL 60602
Phone: 312-212-1520, Fax: 312-212-1530
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