Case Highlights

FBI Visits

A member of the Muslim community contacted CAIR after being approached for voluntary questioning by the FBI. The community member found a business card left at his home with instructions to contact a particular agent. A CAIR attorney appraised the community member of his rights and contacted the agent on his behalf, instructing the agent to direct all communication through the community member’s attorney. Another Muslim man who recently became a lawful permanent resident of the United States contacted CAIR-SFBA because he was approached by FBI agents who expressed an interest in him because of his country of origin and his profession. The man worried he had fewer rights when approached by law enforcement because he is not a U.S. citizen. CAIR’s staff advised him that he does have the right to remain silent and to have an attorney present when speaking to law enforcement. At his request, CAIR contacted the agent and explained that the man would be asserting his right to remain silent and his right to counsel . We each have the same rights when we are approached by the FBI, regardless of our immigration status. If you have been approached by the FBI for “voluntary questioning”, contact CAIR’s Civil Rights staff at 408.986.9874.


A young Muslim woman contacted CAIR after a troubling visit to the doctor’s office, during which her physician made insulting remarks about Islam and about her nationality. CAIR contacted the medical establishment where this incident happened and received an apology for the young woman from both the doctor and his employer and a promise from the employer to review the doctor’s performance.

From the Civil Rights Deskback to top

Know Your Rights in the Workplace this Ramadan

As a service to our community, we are featuring a primer on how to take time off for obligatory rituals to ensure your fasting, prayers, and holiday time are not disrupted by your work. Pease familiarize yourself with your rights as an employee, particularly on religious accommodation. Did you know that you are entitled to salat and iftar breaks, and to take time off for Eid? Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and particularly section 42 U.S.C § 2000e(j) allow an employee to take time off for sincerely held beliefs, granted they give notice and it's not an undue hardship on the employer. Photo Credit: Chamsi Dib Here are some tips on how to request religious accommodation: Do follow your employer's policies when requesting an accommodation. Before making your request, review your employer's policy and follow any procedures stated in the employee manual regarding notification and requesting time off. Do make clear that the reason you are requesting the accommodation is because of a religious belief or practice. Do keep a personal record of when and how your request was made, and whether and how it was accommodated. Do be respectful when requesting an accommodation. Refrain from reciting the law, in the first instance, as most employers will work with you to accommodate your requests for salat and iftar breaks and Eid time off. To ensure your religious accommodation requests are granted, it is best to begin by following your employer's procedures. If, however, your reasonable requests for prayer and iftar breaks are not accommodated, please know that you have legal rights. If you have any questions, call CAIR-SFBA at 408.986.9874 to speak with a member of our civil rights department.

Clarification on FBI Poster

The following statement was issued over CAIR’s national e-distribution list on January 14, 2011: CLARIFICATION: A 30-year old image that is inconsistent with CAIR's policy of constitutionally-informed cooperation with law enforcement agencies was placed on the local events page of a CAIR chapter web site. Once it was brought to our attention it was removed. The image was not designed by CAIR and the event it promotes was not organized by CAIR. Additionally, CAIR Legislative Director Corey Saylor appeared on Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor to reaffirm CAIR’s policy.

CAIR, ALC, and ACLU Documenting FBI Surveillance Practices

Call for Stories & Know Your Rights

In recent months, there has been a notable increase in complaints by community members of FBI visits. The community members who have reported visits by the FBI have been of diverse backgrounds, both ethnically and geographically, and varying levels of religious practice. We have seen a special emphasis on individuals who have ties to, or have visited Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.

The San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento offices of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Asian Law Caucus (ALC) and the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California (ACLU) are working together to document surveillance practices of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Through this project we seek to identify patterns of overly intrusive conduct and empower community members with information about their rights and the resources available to them. We are also interested in learning about positive interactions with the FBI to be sure our investigation is balanced.

The project plan is two-fold:

1) Identify and document instances of FBI visits to community members and organizations. To that end, if you have been visited by the FBI or know of someone else who has please contact us.

2) Empower community members with access to attorneys, information and resources so that they are prepared in case of an FBI visit. If you are able to host a "Know Your Rights" presentation at your location or for your group, please contact us.

Interviews are confidential and we believe the information we are gathering will be crucial for raising the awareness of lawmakers to overly intrusive FBI practices and their impact on the civil rights and civil liberties of South Asian, Arab, and Muslim communities.

Upcoming “Know Your Rights” Presentation:
Sunday, August 15th, 2010 at 12:00 p.m.
Pakistani American Culture Center
1590 Oakland Road, Suite B213 San Jose, CA 95131

FAQsback to top

I think I've been discriminated against, what should I do?

How do I know if I've been discriminated against?

Will you share information about my case with the public?

I have an immigration problem, can CAIR help?

I'm used to being treated differently. When should I report something to CAIR?

Does CAIR charge for its services?

What are my rights as an employee? As a student? As a traveler? With law enforcement?

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