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Muslim Conference Goers Fingerprinted At Border

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    American Muslims Fingerprinted By U.S. at Canadian Border; CAIR Calls for Profiling Probe, Says Incident Chills Religious Freedom CAIR 12/29/2004 12:40:00 PM
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 1, 2005
      American Muslims Fingerprinted By U.S. at Canadian
      Border; CAIR Calls for 'Profiling' Probe, Says
      Incident Chills Religious Freedom
      12/29/2004 12:40:00 PM


      To: National Desk, Legal Reporter

      Contact: Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726,
      or Ihooper@...; or Rabiah Ahmed, 202-488-8787
      or 202-439-1441, or Rahmed@..., both of
      Council on American-Islamic Relations

      WASHINGTON, Dec. 29 /U.S. Newswire/ -- A prominent
      national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group today
      called for a formal investigation by the Department of
      Homeland Security (DHS) into an incident at the
      Canadian border in which American Muslim citizens were
      apparently singled out for special security checks
      based on their attendance at an Islamic conference and
      then held until they agreed to be fingerprinted.

      The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic
      Relations (CAIR) said the incident was a disturbing
      example of religious profiling that would have a
      chilling effect on the constitutional rights of
      American Muslims, particularly the right to the free
      exercise of religion, freedom of speech, peaceful
      assembly, and the right to be "secure in their
      personsagainst unreasonable searches."

      A number of the up to 40 Muslims who were singled out
      for questioning and fingerprinting told CAIR that they
      were returning from a weekend Islamic conference of
      more than 10,000 in Toronto when they were stopped by
      U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials at
      the Lewiston Bridge crossing near Niagara Falls, N.Y.
      (CBP is part of the Department of Homeland Security.
      For conference details, see:
      http://www.revivingtheislamicspirit.com/ )

      Several of the Muslim citizens held at the border for
      up to six hours on Sunday night and Monday morning
      told CAIR they objected strenuously to being
      fingerprinted, but were informed by CBP
      representatives that "you have no rights" and that
      they would be held until they agreed to the
      fingerprinting procedure. One person was allegedly
      threatened with arrest if she attempted to leave the
      detention area without being fingerprinted.

      CBP officials on the scene cited "orders from above"
      to justify their actions. One CBP official reportedly
      agreed with a Muslim traveler that "it would not look
      good" if the news media saw the detention area filled
      exclusively with Muslims in Islamic attire. CAIR is
      investigating similar reports of demands for
      fingerprinting of conference attendees at other border

      When contacted by CAIR, a CBP spokesman in Washington,
      D.C., initially said fingerprinting of American
      citizens would be a "violation of policy." He later
      said fingerprinting would be allowed "if there was a
      law enforcement reason for doing so," but would not
      state what that reason might be.

      Media reports on the incident quote CBP officials as
      saying some of the Muslim citizens who were
      fingerprinted had names similar to those on watch
      lists. But that claim does not explain why everyone in
      the group of conference attendees, even Muslim
      converts, were fingerprinted.

      SEE: "Muslim-Americans Say Border Inspections Were

      Local DHS officials now say they will hold a community
      meeting next week to address the concerns of those who
      were forced to be fingerprinted.

      "The image of a room full of American Muslim citizens
      apparently being held solely because of their faith
      and the fact that they attended an Islamic conference
      is one that should be disturbing to all Americans who
      value religious freedom," said CAIR Executive Director
      Nihad Awad. "This incident must be investigated to
      determine what the policy on fingerprinting Muslim
      citizens is and who is behind it."

      Awad also urged anyone treated in a similar manner to
      contact CAIR's Civil Rights Department by calling
      202-488-8787 or e- mailing Civilrights@....


      CAIR, America's largest Muslim civil liberties group,
      has 30 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada.
      Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam,
      encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower
      American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote
      justice and mutual understanding.



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