A Time Comes when Silence is Betrayal-
MLK Jr., April 4, 1967

Know Your Rights: Understanding Why By: Karen Latorre CAIR-New York Communications Intern

As victims of stereotypes and racial profiling, Muslims are portrayed very negatively in today’s society, and this has become an issue that needs to be addressed immediately. After the 9/11 terrorists attacks, ‘Islamophobia’ (prejudice toward Islam), has increased drastically in the United States. Not only is this affecting innocent Muslims, but also their rights to freedom of religion and speech in a ‘democratic’ country.

The fact that “Know Your Rights” workshops are in demand around our city; this should immediately sound horrid. In these workshops, discussions are held by legal representatives from the National Lawyers Guild and the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY)’s Civil Rights Manager, Cyrus McGoldrick.

Topics covered are: reacting to hate crimes, knowing your legal rights as an employee, what to do when faced with discrimination, knowing your rights as a student, what to do if law enforcement contacts you, what do while being stopped by the police, knowing your rights as an airline passenger, what to do if  the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) contacts you, how to communicate with congress, and what do when faced with job discrimination. All these subjects are demonstrated by role-play, and genuine examples.

Through out this decade, innumerable innocent Muslims have been held as prisoners, been unnecessarily questioned and have become victims of hate crimes because of their ethnicity and creed. Acknowledging that these situations do exist is the reason why the “Know Your Rights” workshops are so significant, and necessary. Although it is a good way to advocate awareness, this prevalent fear and hatred toward Muslims needs to be eliminated.


Taking into consideration that the FBI, NYPD, and CIA are mostly targeting Muslims who are young, disenfranchised, and not observant, shows the desperation on part of law enforcement to accuse innocent citizens.


Syida Nadia Salar, a Muslim and religious studies teacher when asked, “What is your biggest concern in society today, and why are you here at the ‘Know Your Rights’ workshop?” stated: “I came to the United States a year ago. I pray at the mosque here every day.  I need clarification to justify what really is going on,” she said.

These departments also have surveillance on popular hang-out spots, schools, restaurants, cafes and various other places that cater mostly to Muslims.

 Beena Ahmad, a member from the National Lawyers Guild when asked, “What do you think the Islamic Community can do to help prevent social-profiling and stereotypes, while helping to achieve religious freedom?” She stated, “there are obviously different Islamic communities. Some of the things in asserting our rights are creating dialogue, polls, and try our best to keep away from ignorance.We need to start being more assertive then demanding.”  

Islam is the 2nd largest religion world-wide. The surveillance of Muslims and invasion of their privacy, freedom of religion and speech within the Islamic community is a battle we will overcome. In the process of justifying obstacles that Islamic communities face, workshops like “Know Your Rights” might be the best option for Muslims to become more aware and attentive of their surroundings. The United States being called “The Land of the Free” has clearly lost its value.

Fighting for the Fourth Amendment: Fourth Amendment Privacy Rights Preserved By The High Court By: Christopher Carrion, CAIR-New York Civil Rights Intern

On January 23, 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a unanimous decision to limit intrusive government and law enforcement surveillance tactics, thus defending an important aspect of our privacy and civil rights. The case, United States v. Jones, involved Antoine Jones, owner of a night club in Washington, D.C., who was suspected by the Metropolitan Police Department of trafficking narcotics. Police obtained a warrant authorizing the attachment of a GPS tracking device to Jones’s car. Despite the warrant having a 10 day expiration, the GPS device was attached on the 11th day.

Under the previous understanding of the law, a person had no “reasonable expectation of privacy” in a motor vehicle used on public streets (United States v. Knotts), meaning that law enforcement agencies had a blank check to conduct surveillance using electronic devices such as GPS systems, beepers, tracking beacons, etc., on anyone they wanted, for as long as they wanted, and for any reason, without a warrant. This is especially disturbing in light of our post 9/11 world where warrantless government surveillance is as legal as constitutionally protected speech, worship and assembly. Case in point: the NYPD’s inflammatory document, “Radicalization in the West.”

The Jones case highlighted the principles of privacy and the judicial oversight of law enforcement power. The 4th Amendment protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures in their person, houses, papers and effects. The decision by the Supreme Court signals a great victory for civil liberties; the government can no longer conduct surveillance on people without probable cause, and without a warrant.

The court cited trespass law to support their decision that the government violated the Constitution. This means that the government cannot trespass onto your vehicle (your effects) without a warrant or without your permission. The same reasoning also applies to your homes, your person (meaning body and clothes), and your papers (documents, briefcases etc.). People are now better protected from unwarranted, excessive, and invasive surveillance tactics.

This case involved the FBI placing a device on one person’s vehicle, however, since this is a Supreme Court
decision involving a question of the U.S. constitution, the ruling applies nationwide to law enforcement agencies everywhere, including the FBI, Homeland Security, and police forces like the NYPD. Although the decision was restricted to government planted GPSdevices, it remains unclear what the legal requirements are regarding cell phone GPS or user/factory installed GPS on vehicles. The court did signal that those too might be within the grasp of the Constitution’s warrant requirement.

The court has stated that a person’s reasonable expectation of privacy can be diminished if they installed their own GPS device or used a cell phone. The legal implications behind this must now explored by the Supreme Court.


“I’ve Hated Georgetown Since I Was A Little Kid”—This was way too funny.

Syracuse vs Georgetown, February 8, 2012

Jummah mubarak! May Allah swt protect and increase all of us, ameen :)

RT @GWillowWilson: On this second-to-last jumma of Ramadan, praying for the freedom fighters of Libya and Syria.

Come out to CAIR-NY’s workshop Arise NY! on August 20th to learn more about hate crimes-

Come out to CAIR-NY’s workshop Arise NY! on August 20th to learn more about hate crimes-

STOP HATIN’! come out to CAIR-NY’s workshop Arise NY! on August 20th to learn more about hate crimes:

STOP HATIN’! come out to CAIR-NY’s workshop Arise NY! on August 20th to learn more about hate crimes: