CAIR-MN Welcomes New Hennepin Co. Policy Allowing Hijabs in Jails, Booking Photos

March 20, 2014

 

The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) today welcomed a new Hennepin County policy that will allow religious headwear, including hijabs (Islamic head scarves), in jails and booking photos. Hennepin County is the first in the state to create a comprehensive policy on religious headwear.

CAIR-MN received cases recently from Muslim women arrested for unpaid traffic fines, protests and other relatively minor crimes who were denied the hijab in booking photos and provided inadequate religious accommodations in jail.

“We welcome this new policy on religious headwear as another example of Hennepin County showing leadership and setting positive precedents for other counties,” said CAIR-MN Civil Rights Director Saly Abd Alla. “The new religious headwear policies sends a strong message throughout the state that, regardless of who the individual is or what their situation, we must uphold our principles and follow the law.”

Ms. Abd Alla said both federal and state laws prohibit discrimination against incarcerated individuals based upon religion.

CAIR-MN provided Hennepin County with sample policies from county jails around the country to help them develop “policies that allow inmates to follow their religion and still satisfy safety concerns.”

Hennepin County agreed to provide jail-issued hijabs and other religious headgear to individuals who request it.

In 2011, CAIR-MN asked the Sherburne County Sheriff’s Office to accommodate a Muslim woman’s religious beliefs and let her wear a hijab in jail. The jail refused and the woman was transferred.

 

Cair.com: http://cair.com/press-center/press-releases/12411-cair-mn-welcomes-new-hennepin-co-policy-allowing-hijabs-in-jails-booking-photos.html

CAIR to File Complaint Over MN Judge’s Questioning on ‘Sharia’

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 5/17/13) — The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, said today that it plans to file a complaint against a Minnesota judge who inappropriately questioned defendants on their religious beliefs and equated mainstream Islamic principles with terrorism.

Before sentencing two Muslim women to lengthy prison terms yesterday, U.S. District Judge Michael Davis asked each woman if she supported “jihad, suicide bombings and Sharia law.” Judge Davis also asked, “Does she understand there are some Muslim women who wear dresses or short skirts?” Davis said he was trying to decide whether the defendants would “support terrorist causes” when they are released from prison. The questions reportedly drew audible reactions in a courtroom packed with Muslim spectators.

“It is misguided and unethical for a judge to reference an individual’s general support of mainstream Islamic principles, known as Sharia, during sentencing to determine a defendant’s future dangerousness,” said CAIR Staff Attorney Gadeir Abbas. “By also linking modest dress to a propensity for violence, the judge revealed a disturbing bias that may have impacted his decisions in this case and his sentencing of the defendants.”

Abbas said CAIR would file a complaint based on the Judicial Conduct and Disability Act of 1980, 28 U.S.C. §§ 351-364, and Rules for Judicial-Conduct and Judicial-Disability Proceedings, 248 F.R.D. 674 (2008).

He added that CAIR’s complaint will not deal with the specifics of the cases or the charges against the defendants, but with the action of the judge in inappropriately questioning the defendants on their views about Sharia and modest attire, both of which are irrelevant to their cases.

Two Perham exchange students are kicked out of church

Perham, MN (WDAY TV) — Two exchange students attending school in Perham, Minnesota say they were kicked out of a church there when they questioned a nationally known speaker who says “Islam equals terrorism.”

The boys were kicked out of the Assembly of God church in Perham during a question answer period following a speech by Walid Shoebat. Shoebat says he is a former terrorist, and claims to be an anti-terrorism expert. He now calls Islam the devil and tours the country speaking to churches and schools – even collecting fees from Homeland Security.

CNN has exposed Shoebat, calling him a fraud. Today, the DC based Council on American-Islamic Relations contacted WDAY and said it is calling for a meeting with Assembly of God church leaders in Perham. hopes of strengthening interfaith relations and promoting understanding.

The two teenagers are Muslim, and attended the event featuring Walid Shoebat, a Muslim turned Christian.

 

CAIR-MN Asks DOJ to Probe Bias in Rejection of Islamic Center

The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) today called on the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate allegations of anti-Muslim bias in the rejection of a proposed Islamic center in St. Anthony, Minn.

Last night, the St. Anthony City Council voted 4-1 to deny a conditional use permit for the Abu-Huraira Islamic Center, despite a recommendation by the St. Anthony Planning Commission to approve the project. The project had been on hold since a March moratorium by the council.

At yesterday’s council meeting, the proposed Islamic center faced opposition from an intolerant speakers who — Islamic center proponents assert — clearly exposed the real reason for the approval delay and rejection.

Several residents made anti-Muslim comments at the city council hearing, including: “There is no other religion in the world that condones violence. Islam is evil,” and, “Where did you come from? [Go] change your own country.”

In a response to the city council’s rejection of the Islamic center, CAIR-MN sent a letter to the DOJ seeking a federal investigation.

CAIR-MN is asking federal authorities to determine whether the denial of land usage for the Islamic center constitutes a violation of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA).

RLUIPA protects religious institutions from unduly burdensome or discriminatory land use regulations. RLUIPA and the Minnesota Constitution ban zoning restrictions that impose a substantial burden on the religious exercise of a person or institution unless the government can show that it has a compelling interest for imposing zoning restrictions and that the restriction is the least restrictive way for the government to further that interest.

“We ask the DOJ to use the full measure of its authority to launch a thorough investigation into the recent denial of the proposed Abu-Huraira Islamic Center,” wrote CAIR-MN Executive Director Lori Saroya in her letter to Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division.

Saroya said CAIR-MN is also asking DOJ officials to meet with St. Anthony Muslim leaders.

Yesterday, CAIR’s Michigan chapter called on the FBI to investigate a possible bias motive for a fire and hate graffiti targeting a building associated with a Dearborn mosque.