As salaamu alaykum,
Blessed days are upon us again. The month of Dhul-Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic calendar, is here, bringing with it the best ten days of the year. We ask Allah (swt) to allow us to witness the Day of Arafah - the best day of the year, on which, we are told, Allah (swt) perfected our religion for us, completed His favor upon us, and chose Islam as our religion. (al-Maa’idah 5:3)
It is also the month of fervent travel to fulfill the rite of Hajj, with thousands of Muslims from America alone embarking on a journey full of hopeful farewells and anticipated returns.
Planning a trip of a lifetime is not always stress-free, and Muslims have become all too familiar with the added anxiety of traveling while Muslim: random searches, extra scrutiny, increased chances of questions and delays….
What they may not be prepared for is something beyond anything anyone can know in advance: a list, a red flag, a watchful eye unbeknownst to them, which could spell the end of their carefully planned trip -- or pose an obstacle to their return.
Unfortunately, this is nothing new to the Muslim community. Watchlists and No-Fly Lists have been around for years. Enacted during the Bush administration, these controversial lists have grounded many unwitting travelers with little explanation and no sympathy to their plans.
Their best case scenario? Receiving a letter like the one above. A confusing, vaguely worded explanation that serves as justification for actions that affected a person’s freedom under the guise of national security.
And in the current atmosphere of Trump’s ramped up policies targeting Muslims, these threats loom even darker this Hajj season.
The first thing anyone experiencing travel issues needs to do is get an attorney.For many, understanding what is at stake and where to get help is the first hurdle. For others, affording a lawyer can be a daunting feat during an already stressful situation.
Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America is where expertise and cost-effectiveness intersect to serve the Muslim community when faced with challenges to their constitutionally-protected rights.
Clients of the MLFA-funded Law Center are represented pro-bono -for free - alleviating the financial toll on families affected, with the comfort of knowing that a team dedicated to fighting for Muslims’ civil rights and liberties is on their side.
To reiterate: these types of casesare not new. But they are plenty. According to a recent story in the Washington Post, the no-fly list grew from about 16 people in September 2001 to 64,000 in 2014.
In 2017, the Law Center’s Civil Litigation department worked on over 180 cases, which represents around 29% of the Center’s total caseload - and makes it among the busiest departments there. Of those, the Center successfully represented 5 cases related to the No-Fly List and is currently handling around 15 more - a number that is expected to rise.
In order to keep up with the applications pouring into the Center, CLCMA needs more resources - staff and funds - to represent the increasing number of cases effectively.
We, as Muslim and minority communities, simply cannot afford to lose cases due to lack of funds.
These cases represent more than just individual fights - they represent our community’s response to being unfairly targeted, profiled, and intimidated. We must increase our capacity to take on as many cases as we can in order to send the message that if our community is targeted, we are prepared to respond, because we have the best legal minds - and the Constitution - on our side.
As you seek out opportunities for good works, increased rewards, and chances for forgiveness this blessed month, please make a generous donation to support, strengthen, and sustain MLFA’s noble mission to uphold justice for Muslims in America.
Watchlists are just one of many ways the government has enacted policies that adversely affect Muslims and minorities. Mr. Trump ran for the office of the President of the United States by fanning the flames against Muslims and immigrants, after all. It was not a matter of if, but when, the next move came.
With the recent announcement of a creation of aDenaturalization Task Force, this administration has not only instilled fear and worry in our communities, it has also made them feel vulnerable and confused.
That is why we are committed to fighting for the rights of Muslims in the United States in light of these developments. While the scope of these policies may seem limited at first glance, the potential for their dangerous expansion is present given the racist and Islamophobic rhetoric in this country.
It is crucial for the Muslim community to stand united against these policies. It is up to us to work together to demonstrate that as Americans we believe in the American dream, and as Muslims we are bound by the call for justice. We must organize, we must advocate, and we must be prepared tofight where the battles are being waged - in America’s courtrooms.
This cannot be stressed enough - the Courts are where policies are tested against members of our community, and where our community needs to be prepared to fight back. In this battle, an army is needed on the frontlines: the lawyers, paralegals and staff who fight fire with fire, using the rule of law to take back our rights and defend our freedoms.
But that’s not all.
The MLFA-funded Law Center is becoming known asthe force to reckon with when Muslims are targeted in the courts. Demand for its legal services is growing. Religious-based travel restrictions, immigration denials, and other actions are creating the need for additional resources as well as a bold digital transformation of MLFA’s funded work.
The Law Center is one arm of a multi-pronged approach in defending, protecting, and empowering our communities. Among MLFA’s projects is theMuslim Nonprofit Leadership Conference, a city-by-city tour of educational conferences aimed at equipping the Muslim community’s leadership with the knowledge and resources to successfully navigate the increasingly complicated legal landscape affecting Muslims in America.
There is growing demand for this valuable information to be made accessible to more members of our communities, which inspired MLFA’s upcoming project: the eLearning Law Center for Muslims. This state-of-the-art resource of videos is aimed at breaking down the complexity of the law into topics that are relevant and useful to the American Muslim community – and will be made available online and on-demand.
These initiatives serve as our communities’ fortress against encroaching Islamophobia and government overreach
within the justice system.
- By educating our leaders, we are empowering our communities.
- By funding a Law Center, we are defending against injustice.
- By transforming the way we share our legal resources through an e-Learning Law Center, we are preparing for the future.
It can seem daunting in a time of walls and bans to find windows of opportunity where justice can prevail. It is indeed challenging, but it is not impossible.
Take the case of Carl Kennemer, a Muslim convert who found himself on the controversial No-Fly list and separated from his family with no stated reason - strongly suggesting that his faith was the motive. The MLFA-funded Law Center fought back - and won.
Or the case of an American Muslim leader who faced 11 years of delays in receiving his U.S. citizenship because of a dangerous attempt by the government to expand the definition of ‘affiliation’ and accuse him of guilt-by-association. The MLFA-funded Law Center fought back - and won.
Not to mention the case of Noor Salman - the first spouse of a mass shooter to be put on trial for the crimes of another - simply on the basis of her faith. The MLFA-funded Law Center fought back - and won.
The most recent victory came for a Syrian asylum-seeker who challenged Attorney General Jeff Session’s abuse of discretion and violation of due process when his department sought to deport him to certain death - all in the name of ‘national security.’ The MFLA-funded Law Center fought back - and won.
These cases demonstrate the importance of MLFA’s work and how victories like these can set important precedents -- especially when the law is misused in cases involving Muslims. These victories are giant steps forward in the march towards justice…
We need your help today to continue on the path to justice for Muslims in America.
You can help by making a generous donation today.