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CAIR-Chicago, MIHRC, Competition Law Group File Class Action Suit against Government on Citizenship Delay

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: MUSLIMS SUE FOR CITIZENSHIP, ALLEGE GENDER, RELIGIOUS BIAS

May 5, 2006

Ten Muslim men allege that they have been denied U.S. citizenship for up to two years, in violation of their civil rights, despite passing every test and interview, according to a federal lawsuit filed Thursday.

The men are permanent legal residents who say they should have been sworn in as citizens within 120 days of meeting all the requirements. Instead, they said they have been kept waiting for a year or more.

Meanwhile, "hundreds of thousands of other people seeking to be naturalized" have had their swearing-in ceremonies, the lawsuit said.

"They're in limbo," said Christina Abraham, civil rights coordinator for the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, an advocacy group that represents the plaintiffs. "These are people who don't have any criminal record whatsoever. ... They don't know why they've been delayed. They've done everything they can do."

The plaintiffs allege the delays discriminate against them on the basis of their gender and religious beliefs. They are seeking a court order that they be sworn in as citizens, along with unspecified money damages and attorney fees.

U.S. Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales and top officials at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and FBI are named as defendants. Federal officials had not yet reviewed the lawsuit on Thursday and could not comment, said Charles Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Justice.

The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Paul Plunkett.

The plaintiffs are seeking to bring the lawsuit as a class action on behalf of thousands of other Muslim males who they allege may face similar problems. The wait is frustrating for those who want to apply for certain government jobs or want to know whether they can vote in the next election, Abraham said.

CAIR in Chicago has gotten about 80 complaints in the last year, Abraham said. She said other chapters also have fielded complaints and may file suits.

The plaintiffs have tried to determine how their wait times compare with other ethnic groups. But they said U.S. officials have failed to produce the necessary records under the federal Freedom of Information Act. The plaintiffs seek the records as part of the lawsuit.

"We don't really know what is going on here," Abraham said. "There is a lack of transparency in the system."

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Copyright © 2006, CAIR-Chicago

700,000 Rally in Chicago - See Photos/Video


May 1, 2006

An estimated 700,000 people attended the Immigrants’ Rights march in downtown Chicago today, May 1, 2006, in what has been said to be one of the largest rallies in American history. As people marched down Jackson Boulevard, chants could be heard from blocks away: “Si, se puede! Yes, we can!" Hundreds of thousands of documented and undocumented individuals marched in solidarity, demanding rights for the estimated 11 million undocumented individuals currently residing in the United States.






CAIR-Chicago staff and volunteers were present, carrying signs with slogans such as “Muslims for a just and humane immigration policy”. Standing at the sidewalk, in a show of solidarity with thousands of protesters, CAIR-Chicago representatives shouted words of encouragement to the crowds as they cheered back. The message was clear: Muslims stand united with the sea of Latino, Asian, Irish and African undocumented immigrants seeking an honorable resolution to their predicament. The Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago took a leading role in bringing the Muslim masses out to march in the rally. Organizations including IMAN and the Mosque Foundation were visible alongside Church groups and worker groups chanting in solidarity with them. Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid, Sheikh Jamal Said and other Muslim leaders spoke at the main event to the thousands in attendance.

“What we witnessed today was a true display of democracy. It was the people speaking - legally and peacefully," said CAIR-Chicago Executive Director, Ahmed Rehab. "But that’s just the half of it," he added. "If the people shone, then so did the authorities. I was just as blown away by the preparedness and professionalism of the Chicago Police and City workers as I was by the passionate outpouring of the rally participants.”

“Within moments of the massive crowds clearing Jackson Boulevard, police and city sanitation workers were there, restoring order. Today, Chicago demonstrated why it's the world's best city.”

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CAIR-CHICAGO'S "ARLINGTON HEIGHTS HIJAB CASE" MEDIA DIGEST

This week CAIR-Chicago conducted a large scale mobilization effort to protect the civil rights of a Muslim-American activist. Ms. Rehana Khan was taken into custody by Arlington Heights Police Officers after demonstrating at a rally that proposed immigration reform in a racist manner.

In the process of being arrested, Ms. Khan suffered a violation of her civil rights when an Arlington Heights Police Officer inappropriately took her hijab off in public, allowing her to be exposed in a manner inconsistent with her religious rights and beliefs. CAIR-Chicago sought to bring media attention to this case, and urged citizens to call the Arlington Heights Mayor and State Attorney's Office to voice their disapproval over Ms. Khan's arrest while calling for her case to be dismissed.

Below is a list of links from various media outlets, highlighting the case details and issues that CAIR-Chicago sought to bring to the public eye in the interest of Ms. Khan and all Muslims who reside in the United States:

TELEVISION NEWSPAPERS WEBSITES

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST

Tonight`s "Under the Radar" segment comes to us from Arlington Heights, Illinois. That`s where a 24-year-old Muslim woman, Rehana Khan, says police violated her religious principles by removing her head scarf after arresting her for battery, to which she later pled guilty.

Officials deny wrongdoing, saying cops followed standard procedures. My next guest says the police actions were akin to ripping off her blouse, creating, quote, "a state of forced nudity".

Ahmed Rehab is the spokesman for the Council on American Islamic Relations. He joins us tonight from Chicago.

Thanks for coming on.

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In the News Press Center



Recent Events




RECENT CASES:

Civil Rights Update – 05/05/06

The Civil Rights Department at CAIR-Chicago currently has 412 cases documented in which 175 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.

Government:

  • A Muslim man reported discriminatory treatment by a judge hearing his case. CAIR-Chicago is investigating the report and will take whatever action deemed appropriate to address the matter.
  • A Muslim family has experienced a lengthy delay in obtaining a visa for a family member. CAIR-Chicago has referred the family to the Midwest Immigrant and Human Rights Center (MIHRC).
  • A Muslim woman was denied entry into the United States despite having a valid entry visa. CAIR-Chicago is investigating the incident to determine why the woman was not allowed entry.
  • A Muslim man has reported being detained for hours whenever re-entering the United States. CAIR-Chicago will determine whether the man is on a TSA watch list and will aid the man in registering with TSA so that he may be safe-listed.
Criminal:
  • A Muslim woman was at a local McDonald’s with her family when another customer pulled off her headscarf (hijab). The local police were contacted, but friends of the customer began harassing the family after the offender’s arrest. CAIR-Chicago is following up with local law enforcement and community leaders regarding the incident, and will also tie the incident to other anti-Muslim hate crimes that have occurred in the area.
Prison:
  • A Muslim man incarcerated in a prison down-state has complained of discriminatory treatment when trying to practice Islam, in particular during Friday Congregational Prayer Services. CAIR-Chicago has received several such complaints from inmates at the same prison and will take whatever measures necessary to resolve the issue and guarantee adequate accommodations for practicing Muslim inmates.
Public Accommodation:
  • A Muslim woman was asked to remove her headscarf (hijab) upon entering a courthouse. CAIR-Chicago is contacting the courthouse to ask for a modification of its policy on head-gear.
  • A Muslim man reported disrespectful treatment by the manager of a bank, of which he is a customer. CAIR-Chicago is assisting the man in filing a complaint with the bank.
ONGOING PROGRESS:

View reports of ongoing progress for cases with the Civil Rights Department in the “Progress Report” section.

ACTION ALERTS:

Citizenship Delay Project - 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 mennakhalil@gmail.com

Travel Free Project - 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 on return to the US at any border crossing (land or airport) to please contact travelfree@cairchicago.org.

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 civilrights@cairchicago.org. 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.









CAIR-Chicago Welcomes New Activists to the Team


Shira Tevah is a first-year student at the University of Chicago who has joined CAIR as a Governmental Relations Intern. She is considering a major in Political Science, Public Policy, or International Studies. She has lived in many places, including Jerusalem for a short while. She is currently taking mostly required classes, and studying the Arabic language. She hopes to become a journalist, diplomat, or peace worker.


Usra Ghazi joins CAIR-Chicago as a Public Service Intern, while pursuing a Bachelors Degree in Religion, Ethics, and Social Justice at DePaul University. She serves as a board member of Chicago-based Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) and is actively in involved in local community organizations serving the Muslims of Chicago, and particularly the youth. Born in Karachi, Pakistan and raised in Skokie, IL, Usra is fluent in Urdu, Hindi, Pig-Latin and is currently studying the languages of Arabic and Guitar.


Chicago Tribune Features Chicago Muslim Activist Rami Nashashibi

He is one of Muslim America's rising young activists, yet he is reserved in his comments on caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, the Mideast conflict and the war in Iraq.

Instead, Rami Nashashibi speaks out against Muslim-owned liquor stores, protests on behalf of Latino workers and denounces mistreatment of blacks by the criminal justice system. On Monday he joined Mexicans, Koreans and Poles in a massive march for immigrant rights.

Such issues are not commonly associated with Muslim activism, but Nashashibi, 33, believes Islam calls on the faithful to focus on gritty problems in urban areas. For him, waging a war at home against poverty, gang violence and other modern plagues is key to uniting Muslim Americans.

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Are you a Law Student Looking to Earn Credit While Externing at CAIR?
 
Extern will work closely with CAIR-Chicago's Executive Director and Civil Rights Coordinator on the following:

  • Assist in documenting incidents of religious discrimination by counseling and interviewing complainants regarding their incidents

  • Research laws and policies on employment, student conduct, and immigration procedures, as well as criminal offenses and other areas as seen fit

  • Legal writing: drafting arguments, memos and complaints

  • Participate in representing complainants in dispute resolution, EEOC mediation, filing complaints and law suits

  • Assist in maintaining the Civil Rights Online Center

  • Updating databases containing information about abuses reported to CAIR-Chicago The ideal candidate should be organized and demonstrate the ability to follow through the various on-going and newly assigned tasks. The ideal candidate will possess excellent written communication skills and a commitment to serving the community.


  • This is an unpaid externship. Open to all law students.
     
    Are you an Undergraduate or Graduate Student Looking to Earn College Credit While Interning at CAIR-Chicago?
     
    CAIR-Chicago is currently offering 11 internship opportunities. All internships are unpaid, but students may receive college credit. Applicants need to email a resume and cover letter to Dina Rehab, Outreach Coordinator, at: outreach@cairchicago.org.

    CAIR-Chicago is offering the following positions for internships:

  • Civil Rights Intern
  • Communications Intern
  • Community Service Intern
  • Governmental Relations Intern
  • Grant Research Intern
  • Marketing Intern
  • Operations Intern
  • Public Education Intern
  • Public Relations Intern
  • Church Project Intern
  • Faith Core Online Magazine Intern


  • Please Contact the Outreach Coordinator for more information on the tasks and duties of specific internships. Call Dina Rehab at 312-212-1520 or at outreach@cairchicago.org
     











    Executive Director
    Ahmed Rehab

    Civil Rights Coordinator
    Christina Abraham

    Outreach Coordinator
    Dina Rehab

    Governmental Relations Coordinator
    Sadiya Ahmed

    Operations Coordinator
    Sabah Ahmed

    Communications Coordinator
    Sultan Muhammad

    Staff Attorney
    Heena Musabji, Esq.


    Board of Directors
    Alif Muhammad
    Ahmed Rehab
    Zaher Sahloul, MD
    Hina Sodha, Esq.
    Yaser Tabbara, Esq. - Secretary
    Mazen Kudaimi, MD - Vice President
    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 1410, Chicago IL 60604
    Phone: 312-212-1520, Fax: 312-212-1530
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    The Chicago Activist is a publication of CAIR-Chicago
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