MORE U.S. MUSLIMS EXPECTED TO TAKE PART IN HAJJ
CAIR reminds pilgrims of their rights, offers ‘hotline’ for bias reports
(WASHINGTON, D.C., 12/12/2006) - A prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group said today that the number of American Muslims taking part in this year’s pilgrimage to Mecca, or Hajj, is expected to increase because the religious observance falls during the winter holidays.
(American Muslims are just beginning to leave for Hajj and will be returning in early January. Some 10,000 American Muslims go on Hajj each year. To find a local mosque, go to: http://islamicfinder.org/)
Following recent allegations of “flying while Muslim” airport profiling incidents, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is advising those going on pilgrimage to be aware of their civil and legal rights as airline passengers. CAIR is also offering a toll-free hotline (1-800-784-7526) for anyone who believes their rights were violated.
In its ” Your Rights and Responsibilities as an American Muslim” pocket guide, CAIR states:
“As an airline passenger, you are entitled to courteous, respectful and non-stigmatizing treatment by airline and security personnel. You have the right to complain about treatment that you believe is discriminatory. If you believe you have been treated in a discriminatory manner, immediately:
1. Ask for the names and ID numbers of all persons involved in the incident. Be sure to write this information down.
2. Ask to speak to a supervisor.
3. Ask if you have been singled out because of your name, looks, dress, race, ethnicity, faith, or national origin.
4. Ask witnesses to give you their names and contact information.
5. Write down a statement of facts immediately after the incident. Be sure to include the flight number, the flight date, and the name of the airline.
6. Contact CAIR to file a report. If you are leaving the country, leave a detailed message, with the information above at 202-488-8787.”
“Given the increase in the number of complaints CAIR has received alleging airport profiling of American Muslims, we believe it is important that all those taking part in this year’s Hajj be aware of their legal and civil rights,” said CAIR Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper.
Hajj is one of the “five pillars” of the Islamic faith. (The other pillars include a declaration of faith, daily prayers, offering regular charity, and fasting during the month of Ramadan.) Pilgrimage is a once-in-a-lifetime obligation for those who have the physical and financial ability to undertake the journey.
When the main portion of the pilgrimage is completed, Muslims worldwide gather for communal prayers on the first day of Eid ul-Adha (eed-al-ODD-ha), the second of the two major Muslim holidays.
CAIR, America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 32 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.