Language Access: CAIR-Philadelphia has begun working on a project to ensure that the Philadelphia police use appropriate interpretation and translation resources for encounters with people who do not speak English fluently. Every person has the right to meaningful access to government services regardless of language proficiency, and the too-frequent failure of the police to use translation services affects both victims of crime and those accused of crimes. CAIR has received multiple complaints of communication problems between Muslim immigrants and the police, and we will be offering technical legal assistance to a coalition of community groups seeking to remedy the problem.
Anti-Bullying: We are continuing our effort to fight bullying and harassment in area schools. We are currently acting on two new complaints in this area—one involving a middle school student who was seriously injured in an incident that may have involved bullying, and the other involving a community college professor who made disparaging remarks about Islam in a science class. We also continue to offer anti-bullying and student rights seminars, including most recently at Al-Aqsa Islamic Academy.
Religious Clothing: CAIR-Philadelphia’s Legal Department, including legal intern Zakir Mir, is working with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Pennsylvania to produce a new “Know Your Rights” guide focused on the right to wear religious clothing in Pennsylvania, for students, employees, and those seeking government benefits (like a driver’s license). Complaints about being forced to remove one’s hijab or to shave one’s beard are among the most common complaints we receive, and frequently we learn through investigation of these complaints that others were subjected to the same treatment but did not know their rights. This pamphlet is part of an outreach effort to ensure that everyone knows about the right to religious accommodation.