Bensalem Masjid Case
As many of you already know, CAIR-Philadelphia has filed a lawsuit against Bensalem Township for prohibiting the construction of a masjid. On July 21, 2016, the Department of Justice (DOJ) also filed suit against Bensalem Township, echoing our claims of discrimination and injustice. Only under extraordinary circumstances does the DOJ file lawsuits against Municipalities. The mere fact of their involvement speaks volumes about the egregiousness of Bensalem’s conduct against the Bensalem Masjid and their broader policies regarding places of worship. We are currently awaiting a judge’s decision as to whether our case will be joined with the DOJ.
We applaud the DOJ’s commitment to protect the religious rights of Muslims. It is a welcome relief to see the United States government work with its Muslim population to ensure equal rights.
Philadelphia Public Pool Case
It was brought to our attention that a Muslim mother was facing harassment and discrimination when accompanying her children to various Philadelphia public pools. The mother wore her traditional Islamic attire to the pool, as she had no intention of entering the pool, and her children were wearing Islamic bathing suits made from traditional swimwear material. The mother was prohibited from entering several Philadelphia pools in her Islamic attire, and staff would harass and interrogate her children concerning the appropriateness of their bathing suits.
CAIR-Philadelphia teamed up with the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania (ACLU-PA), to inform the city that this conduct violates state and federal law, and demanded a change in policy. We are happy to report that the city agreed to implement a policy that conforms to state and federal religious freedom laws.
To the city’s credit, they were apologetic and cooperative in adopting a new policy. It is now the policy of Philadelphia pools to permit a parent who is accompanying their children to the pool to wear street attire on the pool deck.
Last month a group of Muslim honors students were rewarded with a trip to New York City. While en route to New York City, a Megabus driver continually accused the children of being too loud and boisterous, despite the fact that none of the children were making any noise. These accusations were so blatantly false that several passengers, unaffiliated with the students, assured the driver that the children were not being disruptive. The driver went so far as to attempt to photograph several of the children. One chaperone called the police, who met them upon arrival at New York City.
CAIR-Philadelphia wrote a letter to Megabus informing management of the driver’s conduct and highlighted Megabus’ own non-discrimination policy. (Because the children were not denied service, as they were taken to New York City, there is no legal cause of action.)
Megabus investigated the incident and reprimanded the driver accordingly. In addition, they agreed to reimburse the group the price of their tickets. Read Megabus’ response letter (PDF).
These legal victories are further evidence of CAIR’s invaluable service to the Muslim community of the Greater Delaware Valley.