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US Commision on International Religious Freedom Sued for Discrimination Against Muslims

More on the problematic nature of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) surfaces. Remember the USCIRF is the same govt. body that appointed Zuhd Jasser as one of its commissioners:

Federal lawsuit charges religious freedom commission with discriminating against Muslims

By Michelle Boorstein (Washington Post)

Some Washington figures prominently connected with promoting religious freedom overseas are acccused in a federal lawsuit of discriminating against Muslims.

The lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court accuses members of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom of reneging on hiring a Muslim lawyer in 2009 once they learned of her faith and her work advocating for Muslim-Americans.

It quotes staff as encouraging Safiya Ghori-Ahmad, during her short period working at the commission, to call in sick on the days that particular commissioners were in the office, to “downplay her religious affiliation” and to emphasize that she is a “mainstream and �moderate’ Muslim” who doesn’t cover her hair.

The lawsuit, which follows an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint that Ghori-Ahmad filed in 2010, lays blame on several longtime commissioners, including Nina Shea, an attorney and writer who focuses on religious freedom crises abroad, particularly the plight of Christian minorities. The suit quotes Shea as writing that “hiring a Muslim like Ms. Ghori-Ahmad to analyze religious freedom in Pakistan would be like �hiring an IRA activist to research the UK twenty years ago.’”

The commission referred questions to the Justice Department, which represents the quasi-governmental organization; Justice officials declined to immediately comment.

Shea and several other commissioners have long been accused of criticizing aspects of the Islamic faith in a way that unfairly stigmatizes all Muslims. Others see Shea and her arguments as a bold challenge to Islamic extremism and terrorism.

The suit quotes the commission’s policy and research director, Knox Thames, as telling Ghori-Ahmad that the offer to be a South Asia policy analyst was retracted — weeks after being made, and after she had quit her other job — because “certain Commissioners objected to her Muslim faith and affiliation … He said he was sorry this had happened,” the suit says.

Also accused of leading the alleged discrimination was longtime commission chairman Leonard Leo, a key consultant at times to Republican leaders on Catholic issues and executive vice president of the Federalist Society.

The allegations in the suit are the most explicit in a years-long series of allegations that commission leaders are biased against Muslims, specifically people associated with groups critical of U.S. foreign policy and who work for groups that fight anti-Muslim discrimination. Questions about the Ghori-Ahmad EEOC complaint — which commission lawyers had argued the body was exempt from — and how the commission uses its resources led some lawmakers last year to almost let USCIRF close for lack of reauthorization.

Its budget was ultimately cut by a quarter and long-serving commissioners were forced out by retroactive term limits.

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  • AJ


    If the coach is bribing students or pressuring students to pray with him, students’ participation in prayers doesn’t stay voluntary – in that case the coach starts using the position of his state to mandate things – wall between church and state disappears – the prayer becomes unconstitutional, haram and treif.

  • Steve

    @AJ, do you discuss this in your local inter faith center?

  • Just Stopping By


    I was using “haraam” as a general term for wrong, here applying it to US legal issues, not religious ones. And, yes, I would find your positions just as wrong (or haraam) no matter what the religion of the coach is.

    On the second question, I think it is constitutional to stop the coach from organizing or leading prayers. If the students organize it and invite the coach, I’m a bit uneasy, but that may be okay. But I don’t think the coach should announce to the students that he would like them to pray with him.

    But, since you have some good examples, would you be okay with a teacher saying that every student who joins her in prayer will get an extra ten points on every exam that year? What if she doesn’t announce the extra ten points, but if asked if she gives extra credit to the students who join her in prayer says, “No comment”? Halal or haraam, or kosher or treif if you prefer?

  • AJ


    Would you term my actions “haram” as well if I were defending a Muslim coach or a Muslim Math teacher or another Muslim public school official praying on grounds in the locker, the library or some other place on the school with other Muslims students who had *voluntarily* gathered to pray?

    Would you term it “constitutional” to stop the Muslim coach or teacher from praying Salat along with those students?

    If your answers are No to both, you have to wonder why the double standards for Christians? If your answers are yes, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” must mean something different to you and me.

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