Twelve Muslim Americans have filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice, the FBI and other federal agencies hoping to end a secretive terrorist watchlist.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations announced the lawsuit during a press conference on Monday, September 18. According to NJ Spotlight News, the lawsuit alleges that the list violated the civil rights of over 1 million Americans for the past 20 years.
According to VOA News, the FBI says people on the list are “reasonably suspected to be involved in terrorism or terrorism related activists.” U.S. officials have denied that the list targets Muslims.
Prospect Park Mayor Mohamed T. Khairullah, one of the twelve plaintiffs in the lawsuit, spoke about the hardships he experienced because he was placed on the list. He says he was prohibited from attending the annual Eid-al-Fitr celebration at the White House, NJ.com reports.
Mayor Khairullah wants to stop Muslim Americans from being treated as second-class citizens.
“Since 2019, I discovered that if I don’t do something now, my children, and their children, will probably be second-class citizens based on their ethnic and religious background,” the mayor said at CAIR’s press conference, according to NJ.com. “I discovered that as a second-class citizen, I am not entitled to due process offered to others by the Constitution. That my government can indeed accuse me, harass me, and tarnish my reputation without owing me an explanation or an apology if they were wrong. I discovered that merely my name can make me a suspect.”
CAIR National Litigation Director Lena Masri called for the help of President Joe Biden and his administration.
“For 20 years, the government has targeted Muslims for punishment through a secret list that was never approved by Congress and that provides no process or recourse,” Masri said in a press release. “It has accomplished nothing other than the tremendous pain it has inflicted on American Muslims. The Biden administration has the ability and the obligation to put an end to it.”
VOA News contacted the Justice Department and the FBI but both organizations declined to comment on the lawsuit. The Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to VOA News’ request for comment.
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