| Welcome to Global Village Space

Thursday, July 18, 2024

American Muslims Persist in Legal Battle Against FBI Terror Watchlist

CAIR takes legal action against FBI's controversial watchlist, highlighting its negative impact on the Muslim community and advocating for justice amidst systemic discrimination and racial profiling.

– Muslim rights group CAIR takes legal stand against FBI’s controversial watchlist

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the largest Muslim civil liberties organization in the United States, has raised its voice against the negative impact of the FBI’s “terror watchlist’’ on the country’s Muslim community.

CAIR National Deputy Executive Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell told Anadolu that this surveillance system significantly hampers the daily lives of Muslims across various facets of society.

American Muslims “might be subjected to extra security when they are applying for a job, when they are trying to open a bank account, when they’re getting on a plane. They might have to jump through extra hoops to accomplish any of the things that other Americans can do very easily without having to deal with suspicion,” he said.

Mitchell highlighted the origins of the watchlist, tracing it back to the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, wherein the FBI initiated a covert monitoring mechanism targeting Muslims in the country.

He added that the list contains the names of individuals deemed suspicious by the government, even though they haven’t been charged with any crimes.

‘Horrible’ consequences

The watchlist “has led to some pretty horrible things,” Mitchell said, citing instances where innocent American Muslims encountered severe disruptions, including intrusive questioning about their religious practices like “How many times a day do you pray?’’ and “What Imam do you like?”

“It’s resulted in one case in an American being repeatedly pulled over while driving by local police who saw his name on a list and they approached him with guns out, endangering his life simply because he’s wrongly on this watch list,” he said.

Read More: Tech Titans Clash: Microsoft’s OpenAI Investment Reshapes AI Market Dynamics Alongside Google

He also recalled that the issue garnered renewed attention in January 2023, when a Swiss hacker exposed the watchlist online, revealing cases of mistaken identities, including children erroneously included due to name similarities.

“Children who could not have committed any crime. (But) because their name matches up with someone else’s name, they end up on the list. We also know from a leak of the watch list that over 95% of the names on the list are names that are typically associated with Muslims. Those make up the overwhelming majority of names on this watch list.”

Mitchell also pointed out that such profiling not only endangers individual liberties but also perpetuates racism and discrimination within society.

“Last year, we received about 5,000 complaints nationwide related to discrimination and other issues. That was actually a 23% decrease compared to the year before. But that’s still a large number, of 5,000 Americans, at the very least experiencing a problem, potentially because they are Muslim. That number is far too high.”

‘We plan to continue the fight against the watchlist’

In response to these challenges, CAIR has embarked on a legal crusade against the FBI terror watchlist, aiming to safeguard the civil rights of Muslims in the country, according to Mitchell.

He affirmed their commitment to pursuing justice for those unfairly targeted, highlighting ongoing litigation, including a crucial case currently before the US Supreme Court.

Mitchell also cautioned against the government’s attempts to dismiss lawsuits by removing individuals from the watchlist before legal proceedings are completed.

The government avoids responsibility for unlawfully taken decisions by doing that, he said.

Despite these obstacles and regardless of the outcome, CAIR remains steadfast in its pursuit of justice through continued advocacy and legal action, he said.

“We of course plan to continue fighting the watch list everywhere we can in courts of law,” Mitchell said, signaling CAIR’s unwavering commitment to upholding the rights in various courts and the dignity of Muslim Americans in the face of systemic discrimination.