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Lawsuit alleges "invasive religious questioning" of Muslims at border

A Muslim civil rights group says federal agents are wrongly detaining and questioning Muslim-Americans coming into the U-S.

The Michigan Council on American-Islamic Relations lays out those accusations in a federal lawsuit filed this week.

They’re suing on behalf of four Muslim U-S citizens. All say they were subject to “invasive religious questioning” when they tried to re-enter the country from Canada.

Shareef Akeel is a lawyer for the plaintiffs. He says Muslims are clearly being singled out for this type of "persecution," and that’s illegal.

“If you ask everybody, 'Do you to go to church? Do you go the synagogue, do you go to the mosque?' That’s fair game," Akeel said. "But if ask only one religious group do you go to the mosque and you don’t ask others, that’s discriminatory treatment.”

Wissam Charafeddine says he’s been detained and aggressively questioned on several occasions when trying to re-enter the U-S from Canada.

“Time after time, my faith is questioned, my type of activities are questioned, everything in my wallet and my car are questioned,” Charafeddine said.

The lawsuit names the FBI, Transportation Security Agency, and Customs and Border Protection.                                                                                                          

In a written response to the accusations, Customs and Border Protection says it “strictly prohibits profiling on the basis of race or religion.”

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Radio in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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