The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

One Year After Obama's Cairo Speech, U.S. Policies Continue To Unfairly Target Muslims

ACLU Reiterates Call For Reform


year after President Obama's Cairo speech on the relationship between
the United States and Muslims around the world, the American Civil
Liberties Union reiterates its call for improvements to national
security policies that unfairly target Muslims. Many of the
discriminatory policies identified by President Obama last year still
exist but do not make America any safer.

"The administration has acknowledged that some national security
policies have unfair and disproportionate impact on American Muslims,
but we still have a long way to go to achieve the goals President Obama
laid out a year ago," said Michael German, ACLU Policy Counsel and
former FBI Agent. "Discriminatory policies such as racial profiling are
not only unfair, but harm our country's security interests by wasting
scarce government resources and eroding the trust of the communities in
law enforcement and government."

Among other things, the ACLU is calling for reform of terrorism
financing laws and policies that prevent Muslim Americans from
practicing their religion through charitable giving. Although President
Obama acknowledged the issue of U.S. terrorism financing laws that chill
Muslim Americans' religious practice in his speech, the administration
has failed to ask Congress to narrow the laws or made an effort to
change its enforcement policies. These laws grant the executive branch
virtually unchecked power to designate charities as "foreign terrorist
organizations" on the basis of secret evidence without giving
organizations a meaningful chance to defend themselves, and make it a
crime to provide humanitarian aid, services or other assistance to
designated organizations. The government's actions have a chilling
effect on Muslim charitable giving, or Zakat, one of the five pillars of
Islam and a religious obligation for all observant Muslims.

"Widespread intimidation of Muslim donors and the arbitrary blacklisting
of charitable organizations trample on Muslims' free exercise of
religion through charitable giving, create a climate of fear and
distrust in law enforcement and undermine America's diplomatic efforts
in Muslim countries," said Jennifer Turner, ACLU Human Rights Researcher
and author of the report Blocking
Faith, Freezing Charity. "Post-9/11 policies have created a
climate of fear that prevents Muslims from practicing their religion,
and unless the Obama administration takes immediate action, this legacy
of the Bush administration will persist."

The ACLU is also calling for an end to the practice of improperly
targeting U.S. citizens who are Muslim or perceived to be so, but are
not suspected of posing any threat, for questioning by Department of
Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection officers about their
religious and political beliefs, associations and practices, including
religiously-motivated charitable contributions, when they return home to
the United States from overseas travel.

"The U.S. government clearly has an interest in verifying the identity
and citizenship of individuals seeking to reenter the country and
ensuring that individuals who pose a threat to national security are not
permitted to enter," said German. "But questioning U.S. citizens simply
because they are Muslim or perceived to be Muslim about their religious
and political beliefs and associations is unconstitutional and does
nothing to make this nation safer."

The ACLU is calling on the Obama administration and Congress to take
immediate steps to fix these harmful and unconstitutional policies and

The ACLU report Blocking Faith,
Freezing Charity is available online at:

The American Civil Liberties Union was founded in 1920 and is our nation's guardian of liberty. The ACLU works in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

(212) 549-2666