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removed with excessive force

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  • Norma J F Harrison
    no action is requested - it s just hard to let all these terrible things come by and not post to others... sorry... Norma
    Message 1 of 1 , May 24, 2004
      no action is requested - it's just hard to let all these terrible things come by and not post to others... sorry...

      Investigation Demanded Into Mistreatment at High School Graduation in Louisiana
      Date Posted: Monday, May 24, 2004


      FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE ..: MAS Freedom Foundation :.. May 24, 2004 PRESS RELEASE

      Contact: Anwer Bashi Public Affairs Director, Muslim American Freedom Foundation, New Orleans

      Phone: (504) 606-0346 anwerb@... http://masnet.org

      Investigation Demanded Into Mistreatment at High School Graduation in Louisiana

      Westwego, LA (May 22, 2004) - Maha Askar, an American-born 26-year-old Loyola University New Orleans graduate in Biology, was removed with excessive force from the Alario Center. She was there to see her brother graduate from West Jefferson High School, the same school which, earlier this year, had an incident with a teacher pulling off a Muslim student's headscarf in class.

      Ms. Askar was standing in the entrance line when a security guard removed her and spent five minutes examining her ticket to see if it was a forgery. When she complained, the police were called and placed her and her three teenage cousins in handcuffs after shooting one of them with a tazer.

      Throughout the ordeal, which was witnessed by numerous by-standers, both the Alario Center security guards and police made statements indicating a prejudicial and pre-judgmental attitude. When Maha asked the security guard why he had singled her out for inspection, as well as other women who were wearing the Islamic headscarf, the guard responded, "Y'all people always have fake tickets." When the police officer grabbed her to put her in handcuffs, her sister-in-law, who was accompanying her, told him "you can't touch her like that," to which he replied, "This is how we do it in this country."

      At one point, during the commotion, her cousin complained, "You don't have to do it like that," to which the officer responded by shooting him with a tazer in front of dozens of witnesses who, by this time, were gathered around, filming and photographing the event. After the teen was already on the ground, witnesses report that the officer kept pushing the button on the tazer to continue to administer the electric shock. Later, after being taken into custody, he asked the police officer if he could see the video. The officer told him jokingly that he could watch it on America's Funniest Home Videos.

      Eventually, the General Manager of the Alario Center, upon being informed of the disturbance, arrived and shouted to the police to "Get her out of here, get her out of here." Maha Askar was then taken into the police station and had her headscarf forcibly removed, even after she specifically pointed out that she considered that a violation of her person.

      Maha had received the ticket from her graduating brother, who was given, along with all graduating seniors, five tickets by the school so that his family could attend his graduation. When asked how she felt about what happened, Maha replied, "Something like this makes me feel like a foreigner in my own country. I live here, went to school here, work here, and then after 26 years, something like this happens. It's really quite unbelievable."

      The Muslim American Society's Freedom Foundation is currently talking to the Jefferson Parish Police Department and will be filing a complaint with the Internal Affairs division concerning the events. The department has assured the Muslim community that if there was any improper conduct, it would be addressed and action would be taken. Further, the Muslim community is asking that Maha receive an apology from the Alario Center and that appropriate disciplinary action be taken with respect to the security guards involved in the incident. They will also be contacting the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice regarding what is becoming a pattern of discrimination against the Muslim residents of Jefferson Parish.

      In the past, the Islamic Shura Council of Greater New Orleans has been invited by the Homeland Security Department to give seminars explaining law enforcement issues on dealing with the Muslim community. The New Orleans and Jefferson Parish Police departments have attended these seminars, along with 24 other local law-enforcement agencies.


      The MAS Freedom Foundation is attempting to build an integrated empowerment process for the American Muslim community through civic education, participation, community outreach, and coalition building; to forge positive relationships with other institutions outside of the Muslim community that will ensure and facilitate the protection of civil rights and liberties for American Muslims and all Americans.


      * The Freedom Foundation is the public affairs arm of the Muslim American Society (MAS), a national grassroots religious, social, and educational organization. Learn more at www.masnet.org .

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