CAIR-PA to Spot-Check Treatment of Returning Hajj Pilgrims
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(PHILADELPHIA, PA, 1/4/2007) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Pennsylvania said today that it will interview Muslims returning from the annual Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca, to spot-check their treatment by Philadelphia International airport security personnel and border protection authorities.

In December, CAIR’s national headquarters reminded the 10-15,000 American Muslims going on Hajj to be aware of their civil and legal rights as airline passengers. CAIR also established a toll-free hotline (1-800-784-7526) for anyone who believes their rights were violated.

Also in December, CAIR welcomed an announcement by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) that the agency had provided special training about Islamic traditions related to the Hajj to some 45,000 airport security officers.

The Philadelphia chapter of the Washington-based Islamic civil rights and advocacy group said it is concerned about an increase in reports of alleged profiling of Muslims at the nation’s airports.

Just last week, a German Muslim was barred from entering the United States, interrogated for some 12 hours, detained in a local jail for four days, and then sent out of the country, all without an explanation of the government’s actions.

“We hope that the recent training about the Hajj offered to airport security officers will result in a hassle-free process for returning pilgrims,” said CAIR PA Chairperson Iftekhar Hussain. “American Muslims believe in protecting both our nation’s security and the freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution, including the freedom to carry out the obligations of one’s faith without fear of discrimination.”

Hussain said CAIR offers a free “Your Rights and Responsibilities as an American Muslim” pocket guide that deals with issues such as passenger rights, workplace discrimination, reacting to anti-Muslim incidents, and communicating effectively with elected officials.

Representatives of CAIR chapters nationwide have met with TSA, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials on issues related to cultural sensitivity and national security.

Returning Hajjis are requested to visit: http://pa.cair.com/index.php?Page=hajjquest&Side=about and fill out a questionnaire about their experiences.

CAIR, America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 32 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. 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.

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