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Muslim Americans Detained While Returning from

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By Evan Mantyk

The Epoch Times

Jan 03, 2005






DETAINED: Muslim college students who were detained last week while returning to the United States from an Islamic conference in Toronto, Canada.

Evan Mantyk


NEW YORKâ€â€ÂLast week 38 Muslim Americans were detained while traveling back to the United States from an Islamic conference in Toronto, Canada.

“This is the most blatant case of religious profiling,� said Mr. Wissam Nasr of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Inc (CAIR). Nasr said that there was no reasonable suspicion of criminal activity or smuggling. He attributes the search to the fact that they were identified as Muslims from the head scarves the women wore.


Kristie Clemens, a spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security's Customs and Border Protection (CBP), said agents stopped anyone who said they attended the three-day convention, titled “Reviving the Islamic Spirit,� based on information that such gatherings can be a means for terrorists to promote their cause.


Attendees say the conference was about spirituality and Islamic unity.


“[The conference] had scholars from all over North America speaking about, among other things, how Muslims should reach out to non-Muslims in light of 9-11, in order to help remove the ignorance many people have about Islam,� said Nasr.


Included in the 38 detained were four college students. Among them, Noha Solaman and her younger sisterâ€â€Âboth born and raised in the United Statesâ€â€Âwere detained for six hours without explanation. According to Solaman, after watching other detained Muslims get released within two hours, she asked when she would be too. A DHS agent gave her a dirty look and said, “We’re not in McDonald’s.â€?


CBP spokesperson Clemens said 34 people were stopped at the Lewiston, New York crossing and four others were checked at the nearby Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls. They were held for an average of 2-1/2 hours and offered coffee and tea. Clemens acknowledged the inconvenience of the additional security measures, but said that with the threat of terrorism, there was no room for error.


“We have ongoing credible information that conferences such as the one that these 34 individuals just left in Toronto may be used by terrorist organizations to promote terrorist activities,â€? Clemens said. “As the front-line border agency, it is our duty to verify the identity of individualsâ€â€Âincluding U.S. citizensâ€â€Âand one way of doing that is fingerprinting.â€?


On Thursday, CAIR filed formal complaints and is demanding a complete investigation by the DHS. Nasr said they want to find out where the order to detain attendees of the Islamic conference came from. They are also considering filing a class-action lawsuit.


AP contributed to this article.

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