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12 Jun, 2013

U.S. Judge Allows Suit on Border Questioning of Muslims to Proceed


(WASHINGTON, D.C., 6/11/13) — The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today announced that a federal judge in Michigan has allowed a lawsuit against U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the FBI over the repeated detention and questioning of Muslims at and inside the United States-Canada border and other ports of entry to move forward.

CAIR, which is co-counsel on the case with attorney Shereef Akeel, filed the lawsuit on behalf of four American citizens who reported that CBP and FBI agents detained and handcuffed them without evidence of wrongdoing and questioned them about their religious beliefs and worship habits.

Questions reportedly asked of Michigan Muslims by CBP and FBI agents have included:

  • How many times a day do you pray?
  • Do you pray your morning prayer in the mosque?
  • Who else prays in your mosque?

Judge Avern Cohn allowed the case to go forward based on alleged violations of the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment equal protection guarantee.

In his order denying the dismissal, Judge Cohn wrote: “This case presents an issue of first impression that, to the Court’s knowledge, has never been addressed by another court in the nation … Plaintiffs have adequately pled that Defendants have a policy, custom and practice of questioning only Muslim-Americans at the border about their religious practices and beliefs. Moreover, Plaintiffs have sufficiently alleged that such policy, practice and custom targets a suspect class and has no rational basis.”

Click here to download the entire ruling by Judge Cohn

“We are pleased that this important case will move forward and those who faced unlawful government questioning about their religious beliefs will continue to have their day in court,” said CAIR Staff Attorney Gadeir Abbas, who travelled to Michigan for the hearing on the government’s motion.

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.