2018 Civil Rights Report: Case Summaries: The Direct Effects of Bias

Examples of the effects of bias on the everyday lives of American Muslims, including children and families, are offered throughout this report. The below case summaries are collected in one section to offer added depth.

Hate Crimes

Massachusetts: A 61-year-old American Muslim grandmother was attacked by a white male while taking a train to prayer services during the sacred Islamic month of Ramadan. Her attacker, almost half her age, screamed at her and punched the window next to where she sat so hard that it broke. As she was leaving the train, he kicked her and stabbed her repeatedly in the back with the end of an umbrella, leaving bruises. The CAIR-Massachusetts chapter located the elderly woman and offered her its services. Though at first she was afraid to pursue the case, she agreed to meet with the prosecutor in the presence of CAIR attorneys. She then agreed to testify before a grand jury on the condition that the CAIR lawyer was present outside the grand jury room. Her attacker was indicted on four felony counts, including two hate crime charges.

Georgia: A man ripped the headscarf off a 14-year-old American Muslim 8th grade girl while yelling “terrorist” at a local mall and then fled. The American Muslim teenager had been walking with a group of people in the parking lot when the stranger approached.

New York: A man instigated an argument with his American Muslim cab driver and threatened him. The passenger pulled out a gun and held it to the driver’s head, calling him a “motherf—ing piece of Muslim sh-t.” He was charged on multiple accounts of felonies.

Kansas: An arsonist burned down an American Muslim couple’s recently opened restaurant, leaving nothing but charred remains inside. Around the back of the building, the couple discovered graffiti that read, “GO BACK.”

Virginia: “It just feels like a nightmare. Just a bad dream and we’re gonna wake up from it,” said an American Muslim couple whose apartment was broken into and vandalized while they were out of state visiting family. They received a call about the break-in and returned home to find “f*** Muslims” written on the wall, their Quran torn to shreds, and all their valuables gone.”

Washington: A woman repeatedly banged on the door of her American Muslim neighbors, kicked their cars, and yelled racial slurs at them, including “terrorists” and “drug dealers,” for weeks. She also told them to “Go back to where you belong,” according to court documents. The woman was charged with three accounts of malicious harassment under the state’s hate crime law.”

New York: An American Muslim man suffered a broken nose and other injuries after he was beaten by a group of men who had been tracking his movement. The man went into a small electronics store and when he emerged, the men were waiting for him. One of the attackers called him anti-Muslim slurs, like “terrorist” and told him to go back to his country, while the rest of the group pummeled him.


California:Two American Muslims who were cousins were held at gunpoint by an automotive body repair shop employee. The employee made several derogatory comments, including “go back to Afghanistan,” “all you [people] are alike,” and “get out of our country.” He then pulled out a gun and accosted the two American Muslim customers. CAIR’s San Francisco Bay Area office initiated legal action against the shop and bigoted employee for damages incurred by the cousins.

North Carolina: A man parked his pick-up truck beside the car of a headscarf-clad American Muslim mother who was nursing her baby. He glared at her threateningly for several minutes then pulled out a rifle and pointed it directly at her. Fearing for her life, the woman immediately got out of her car and rushed to the closest store.

Minnesota: A man cursed the Prophet Muhammad and threw a pig’s foot at people selling goods at an outdoors farmers market. Muslims are prohibited from consuming pork products and bigots often use pigs or pork in an attempt to offend Muslim sensibilities.

North Dakota: A woman threatened a group of three American Muslim women in the parking lot of a Walmart. She told them to “go home” and that she would kill them. In the video recorded by one of the American Muslim women targeted, the attacker is seen saying, “We’re gonna kill all of ya. We’re gonna kill every one of ya.”

California: A man threatened to shoot an American Muslim woman wearing a headscarf in a public park because she was Muslim. The woman was with her toddler son when the man approached her. After being threatened, she fled from the attacker.

Denial of Service or Access

California: A headscarf-clad American Muslim woman and her husband attempted to enter a retail chain and were discriminated against and denied entry into the establishment. An employee stopped the couple at the door and said the store was closing and the manager was not allowing any more customers inside. However, the store hours indicated that it was open for another twenty minutes. The couple pointed this out, but the employee refused to specifically grant the woman entry. Meanwhile, the employee allowed other patrons to enter. Following the incident, CAIR California’s Los Angeles office served the retail chain with a demand letter detailing the illegality of the discrimination to which its employees had subjected the couple. The chain apologized for the incident and compensated the complainants for the humiliation and distress that was caused by the discriminatory conduct.

Michigan: An American Muslim family had their children taken by Child Protective Services. They requested that the children be placed in an American Muslim family’s home but were told that none were available. The children were instead placed with a strictly practicing Christian family. The American Muslim family was threatened with complete separation from their children if they refused to consent to their children attending church services with the foster family. CAIR-Michigan stepped in and arranged for the children to be placed in a local American Muslim family’s home.

Ohio: : The Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) sent letters to 560 immigrants statewide informing them that their Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDL) would be revoked within 30 days if the they could not provide proof of a green card or U.S. citizenship. This caused panic among commercial truck drivers who possessed pending green card applications. A majority of those affected were American Muslims. CAIR-Columbus filed appeals for those affected by the revocations and put pressure on the BMV to reconsider the new regulation. Consequently, the state reversed the decision to revoke licenses and the truck drivers were able to continue to support their families. The city council later recognized CAIR-Columbus with a proclamation for its legal work on this issue.

California: CAIR’s San Francisco Bay Area and San Diego offices settled Department of Fair Employment and Housing complaints on behalf of several American Muslim women and a Sikh man who alleged they were denied access to Go-Kart rides at Boomers! Parks because of their religious headwear. As part of the settlement, parent company Palace Entertainment, LLC, agreed to allow customers who wore securely wrapped headwear to ride the Go-Karts. The company also paid monetary in compensation to each complainant, and will provide anti-discrimination training to employees.

Michigan: An American Muslim businessman was looking to lease a commercial space that would house a car dealership and a Quran school. After several days of negotiations, he returned a signed lease and other required documents to the owner to get his business up and running. When the owner learned that there would be a Quran school on the premises, he stopped communicating with the business man, and eventually refused to lease the building. CAIR-Michigan has filed a Michigan Department of Civil Rights complaint on behalf of the businessman.


Texas: An American Muslim retail store employee contacted CAIR’s Dallas Fort Worth chapter after her employer refused to accommodate a reasonable religious request. During the Islamic sacred month of Ramadan, the employer did not permit American Muslim employees to take their break at a time that coordinated with the sunset timing for breaking a full-day fast. CAIR-DFW issued a letter to the employer that explained the importance of Ramadan and prayer times in Islam. Upon receipt of the letter, the employer immediately granted the employees’ request for religious accommodation.

Michigan: A supervisor wrongfully targeted an American Muslim city Emergency Medical Services (EMS) worker for discipline. The supervisor was known to possess a hit list of people he was targeting for termination, all of whom were people of color and/or Muslim. The supervisor was also known to post racist, anti-immigrant, Islamophobic, and xenophobic content on social media. CAIR-Michigan filed a civil rights complaint on behalf of the American Muslim EMS worker, and notified the city of the supervisor’s social media postings. This resulted in the supervisor’s termination.

Texas: A young American Muslim woman applied for a job at a Dillard’s located in Garland. After receiving an offer for the position, the department manager informed the woman that she would not be permitted to wear her headscarf while on the sales floor. The woman explained the religious importance of the headscarf but management remained firm in its stance and the position was rescinded. CAIR-DFW assisted the woman, and filed an employment discrimination complaint with the Texas Workforce Commission.

California: The San Francisco Bay Area office of CAIR represented an American Muslim dentist who was prevented from attending Friday congregational prayer services by his employer. The employer claimed that they could not change lunch time on Fridays to accommodate the dentist’s prayer schedule. The manager of the location is alleged to have said, “I have Jews, Seventh Day Adventists, and Christians that work on their sabbath. If you want to work here, that is just the way it is.” No legitimate reason was present for the employer to fail to accommodate the dentist’s request for reasonable accommodation.


California: An American Muslim high school student, who had recently moved to the area with his family, endured almost a year of bullying and a physical assault by another student. He was repeatedly taunted, insulted, and called anti-Muslim slurs, such as “terrorist.” When the matter escalated to physical violence, the student reported the incidents to CAIR-Los Angeles, who then aided the student in filing a formal complaint and navigating the complaint procedures with his school. After conducting a full investigation that involved the school’s campus police, the school expelled the offender. The student is now allowed to study in an environment free from violence and religious intolerance.

Michigan: An American Muslim nursing student was failed out of her program in her last semester due to discriminatory grading and discipline by a professor. The professor frequently made discriminatory comments to the student, including how she would not be successful and how her patients would dislike her because of her accent. He also repeated false and damaging stereotypes about American Muslims and women. After CAIR-Michigan met with the school and notified them of the professor’s actions, the school regranted the student entry into the program.

California: A high school English teacher passed out Fox News articles that demonized American Muslims and spread anti-Muslim conspiracy theories. The materials had been used throughout the entire English department for four years and the administration had not put an end to the practice. One local American Muslim mother spoke to the administration and reached out to CAIR’s San Francisco Bay Area office for support and advocacy. CAIR-SFBA partnered with the Islamic Networks Group to host informative assemblies for the freshman and sophomore classes.

Immigration and Citizenship Delays

Ohio:The U.S. government denied a Muslim man, married to an American Muslim U.S. citizen, an immigrant visa for nine years. During the course of their unusually delayed application process, the couple had four children together and the Muslim applicant missed an opportunity to accept a full scholarship to earn his doctoral degree in psychology at an American university.  This caused extreme hardship to his family. The U.S. Consulate refused to provide the couple with any reason for the visa delay, other than to state that it was in “administrative processing.” CAIR Ohio’s Columbus chapter filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem. Consequently, the Consulate was compelled to grant the man his immigrant visa. In December 2017, he was able to join his wife and children in the U.S. after a nine-year wait.

Texas: A widowed asylum seeker and her four children had an initial interview for asylum in 2013. For several years there was no movement on the processing of their application, though it generally takes only several months for USCIS to issue a decision. After USCIS failed to answer the asylum seeker’s inquiries into the matter, CAIR-DFW stepped in to pressure USCIS to halt its discriminatory delay and adjudicate the case. After an excessively lengthy period of limbo, the Syrian asylum seeker and her family were finally granted asylum in the U.S. in 2017.

California: An American Muslim father was separated from his daughter as a result of the unconstitutional Muslim Ban 3.0. The woman sought legal permanent residence status to join her father, a U.S. citizen. CAIR-San Diego worked with the father to advocate on his daughter’s behalf, and within two weeks the embassy issued the woman an immigrant visa. CAIR-San Diego is currently working on the daughter’s application for certification of U.S. citizenship.

Anti-Mosque Incidents

Minnesota: The Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington was bombed by anti-Muslim attackers using an improvised explosive device. Fire and smoke surrounded the mosque but there were no reported injuries. The Center serves the city’s community of civically active American Muslim families.

Idaho: A vandal covered a four-foot cross in butchered pig parts and left it at the Islamic Center of Twin Falls. The cross was wrapped in bacon, pig’s feet, and a tongue, and was left in the parking lot.

Oregon: Vandals spray painted “ISIS” in large red letters on the walls of the Abu Bakar Islamic Center in Portland.

New Jersey: The Islamic Center of Passaic County received a spate of eight phone calls containing death threats over the course of 24 hours. The callers used profane language and stated they would kill the attendees and “burn [the] mosque down.”

Texas: A violent fire gutted the Victoria Islamic Center. Investigators determined it to be arson. There were no physical injuries or loss of life reported.