The Right to Travel After 9/11

CAIR-Chicago sponsored an informational session on “The Right to Travel After 9/11” on Saturday evening, September 22, 2005 at the Mosque Foundation in Bridgeview, IL. Speakers presented on the different experiences and issues that have arisen for Muslim travelers after 9/11, and the rights of passengers when traveling. CAIR-Chicago Civil Rights Coordinator Christina Abraham presented on the types of issues that may arise for Muslim passengers, the rights of passengers, and the types of incidents that have been reported to CAIR-Chicago involving airline/airport profiling. Ms. Abraham also stressed the importance for the Muslim community to assert their individual rights in the wake of these civil rights violations.

Akif Rahman spoke on his experiences being detained and interrogated upon reentry into the U.S. 6 times. Mr. Rahman discussed the civil rights abuses experienced during his detainments and his decision to file suit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to address these issues, as well as the need for the Muslim community to stand up against these violations of the civil rights of U.S. citizens.

Adam Schwartz, Attorney for the ACLU-IL presented on the different lawsuits that his organization has been involved with regarding Muslim Americans that have been detained upon reentry into the U.S., including a class action that was jointly filed between the ACLU and CAIR. In addition, Mr. Schwartz spoke of the problems with the federal CAPPS II air travel passenger screening system, a system which gives travel authorities the ability to “tag” passengers with a color-coded score depending on the type of threat you appear to pose. Under this system, passengers can be detained, interrogated, searched, and even prohibited from traveling. Mr. Schwartz also spoke about Soundex – the system whereby a name that doesn’t necessarily match any name on a TSA watchlist, but has similar sounds, may also cause individuals to be detained. Mr. Schwartz stressed the necessity of the Muslim community to come forward if they have experienced these delays so as to maintain their rights as U.S. citizens.

About 60 people were in attendance for the event and the feedback for this event was positive.

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