The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper,Phone: 202-744-7726,E-Mail:,

CAIR Asks AG Holder to Help Muslim Citizens Barred from U.S.

Letter to attorney general outlines cases of citizens not allowed to return home


A prominent national Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization
today released a letter it sent to Attorney General Eric Holder calling
for the return to the United States of American Muslim citizens barred
from returning home from trips overseas and subjected to FBI pressure
tactics that are being called a form of "extraordinary rendition."

["Extraordinary rendition" is the illegal practice of handing
suspects to foreign governments knowing they will face harsh treatment
or even torture during interrogations.]

The New York Times today profiled an American Muslim from Virginia who is
currently in legal limbo in Egypt after being subjected to repeated FBI
interrogations and placed on a no-fly list.

SEE: American Man in Limbo on No-Fly List (NY Times)

In his letter to Holder, CAIR National Executive Director
Nihad Awad described the pressure exerted on the Virginia Muslim and on
others in similar circumstances:

"His passport was confiscated and FBI agents have subjected
him to at least eight interrogations, despite assertion of his
constitutional right to remain silent as advised by his attorney. He has
been explicitly told that he is on the no-fly list, and he has been
pressured to submit to a polygraph test.

"After a polygraph test on June 8, he was allegedly told by an
agent that, based on his answers, he would 'never see the United States
or your family again' unless he 'rethought' his answers. Subsequently,
he says he has been pressured by the FBI to spy on the American Muslim
community when and if he is allowed to return to the United

"...He was informed that despite being cleared to travel, he
cannot use American or Canadian airspace. When he asked how he could
return to the United States without being able to board a plane, he was
allegedly informed that "Christopher Columbus did not ride on a plane"
to come to America...

"We are concerned that FBI interrogations of American
citizens in a condition of forced exile are being conducted without due
process and using techniques that amount to a form of 'rendition.'

"The use of apparently illegal pressure tactics flies in the
face of President Obama's commitment to abandon unconstitutional
policies instituted under the previous administration.

"If the FBI wishes to question American citizens, they should
be allowed to return to the United States where they will be able to
maintain their constitutional rights free of threats or intimidation.

"We are also deeply concerned that this apparent targeting of
American Muslims not only infringes on constitutional rights, but also
sends the message that Muslims are second class citizens and that the
due process of law does not apply to them.

"I therefore respectfully request that your office investigate
these incidents and take whatever remedial actions are necessary based
on the results of that investigation. I would also request that the U.S.
Department of Justice allow all American citizens to return to the
United States, and, if there are any reasons to charge or investigate
particular individuals, to do so once they are in their country of

"American Muslims are firmly committed to our nation's safety
and security. We applaud your efforts to protect America while
defending the rights of all citizens, regardless of religion, ethnicity
or national origin."

SEE: CAIR Letter to Attorney General Holder

At CAIR's news conference today on Capitol Hill in Washington,
D.C., the Virginia Muslim's 19-year-old brother described how he too was
stopped by the FBI in Egypt, faced repeated FBI interrogations, was
allegedly interrogated by a man claiming to be with the "CIA," and was
blindfolded and chained to a wall in an Egyptian police facility for
several days. During his detention, he says he was assaulted and
subjected to sleep deprivation.

SEE: Statement of Yusuf Wehelie

At the news conference, CAIR outlined similar current cases involving American Muslim

SEE: Cases of American Muslim Barred from Returning to U.S.
More U.S. Muslims Facing Problems in Return from Abroad
(Wash. Post)

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is a grassroots civil rights and advocacy group. CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.

(202) 488-8787