Let’s see…what is the one thing all jihad terrorists have in common? Is it race? Um, despite knees jerking everywhere, no. Is it gender? Eye color? The horse they favor in the third race?
No. It is the religion of Islam. Very well, then. But the jihadists wear signs around their necks that read “I am a radical Islamic extremist,” don’t they? No? And they never associate with Muslims of a more peaceful bent, right? What’s that? They do? Frequently? Mixing with them at conferences and meetings? Working within their ranks? Living as one of them for years before showing their true agenda?
Unfortunately yes, they do all of those things. So in a sane world the only thing we can do to defend ourselves is take actions like what the border agents did in this case. If peaceful Muslims don’t like it, they should energetically, resolutely and decisively identify, isolate, and expel jihadists from their communities.
But they don’t have to do that. The NYCLU and ACLU (and CAIR) are making sure they don’t.
Also, please note: they were not stopped at the border because they were Muslims; they were stopped at the border because they attended this conference. We have below one opinion of the conference as a lovefest of universal brotherhood; apparently the department of Homeland Security takes another view. I would be interested in hearing their side of the story.
From the NYCLU, with thanks to XRDC:
December 15, 2005 — The New York Civil Liberties Union goes to court in Buffalo today to ask Judge William W. Skretny to stop the Department of Homeland Security from enforcing a policy of detaining, interrogating, fingerprinting and photographing American citizens at the border solely because they attend Islamic conferences.
The New York Civil Liberties Union and the American Civil Liberties Union brought the case, Tabbaa v. Chertoff, on behalf of five American citizens who are Muslim and who attended the Reviving the Islamic Spirit (RIS) conference in Toronto in December 2004. When they tried to return from the conference they were stopped at the U.S-Canada border, where border agents detained, frisked, photographed and fingerprinted them.
The NYCLU has since learned that the border agents were obeying a Department of Homeland Security directive instructing them to detain, frisk, photograph and fingerprint individuals who crossed the border on their return from any of several Islamic conferences. Despite repeated requests, the government refuses to abandon this practice. Today, as preparations get underway for this year’s conference, which opens December 23rd, the NYCLU goes to court to ask the judge to stop the practice so that plaintiffs can attend this year’s conference without having to risk detention at the border.
“The government continues to insist that it’s essential to national security to detain, frisk, photograph and fingerprint law-abiding American citizens simply because they are Muslim exercising their right to participate in a religious conference,” said Donna Lieberman, Executive Director of the NYCLU. “Our Constitution does not permit religious or ethnic profiling — but that’s precisely what the government has done in this case.”
As they arrived at the Canada-U.S. border on their way home last year, scores of American Muslims were singled out and detained, questioned, fingerprinted and photographed. Some wore traditional Muslim dress. Some were detained because they told the border guards that they had been to the conference. Some were held overnight for as long as six and a half hours. They were prevented from contacting attorneys or family members. In some cases, border agents seized their cell phones. Among those detained by border agents were several families with their children, including an infant and a pregnant woman.
“I was treated like a criminal for no other reason than because I was Muslim,” said Dr. Sawsan Tabbaa, a Buffalo orthodontist who attended the conference and was detained on her way back.
The RIS conference has been held annually in Toronto since 2003. Each year it has included a strong message of building friendships with and alliances between Muslim and non-Muslim communities. This year the Prime Minister of Canada is expected to give a speech. Last year, as in previous years, the Premier of Ontario, the Mayor of Toronto, and a Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police extended greetings on behalf of the Canadian government.
Christopher Dunn, lead counsel for the plaintiffs, stated: “American citizens of all faiths have a right to attend religious conferences without having the government detaining and interrogating them and without the government putting their fingerprints and photographs in a database. What the government is doing is wrong and unconstitutional, and our lawsuit aims to stop this practice.”
“The government cannot criminalize American citizens for their religious beliefs,” said Catherine Kim, ACLU Staff Attorney. “Americans need to know that they can practice their religion and attend religious conferences without fear of government reprisals.”
The lawsuit charges that the Department of Homeland Security violated the plaintiffs’ rights under the First and Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
In addition to Dunn and Kim, the plaintiffs’ legal team includes NYCLU staff attorneys Udi Ofer and Corey Stoughton; CAIR Legal Director Arsalan Iftikha; and legal advisor Khurrum Wahid; and New York University School of Law Professor Michael Wishnie.
The NYCLU folks should be getting a call from CAIR today telling them it’s Iftikhar, not Iftikha.