Maya Yang, The Guardian, March 26, 2022
Three Muslim Americans filed a lawsuit this week alleging that US border officers questioned them about their religious beliefs in violation of their constitutional rights when they returned from international travel.
The men involved in the lawsuit claim that US border officers at land crossings and international airports peppered them with questions about whether they were Muslim and attended a mosque and how often they prayed.
Abdirahman Aden Kariye, a Minnesota imam and plaintiff in the suit, said he has been questioned about his faith at least five different times when he was returning to the country between 2017 and 2022.
The repeated questioning caused Kariye stress and led him to stop wearing a Muslim cap known as a kufi, and to stop carrying religious texts when he travels internationally to avoid additional scrutiny, the lawsuit said.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing the men, said the questioning violated the men’s constitutional rights to freedom of religion and protection against unequal treatment.
“Just as border officers may not single out Christian Americans to ask what denomination they are, which church they attend, and how regularly they pray, singling out Muslim Americans for similar questions is unconstitutional,” said the lawsuit.
It added: “By targeting plaintiffs for religious questioning merely because they are Muslim, defendants’ border officers stigmatize them for adhering to a particular faith and condemn their religion as subject to suspicion and distrust.”
It asks a judge to declare the religious questioning was unconstitutional and to order US government agencies to expunge records containing information that was obtained through the questioning of the men.