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Muslim group files lawsuit against feds

By Julie Cannold, CNN
updated 6:23 PM EDT, Fri April 13, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Civil liberties group says Michigan Muslims' First Amendments rights violated
  • It cites "invasive religious questioning" at the U.S.-Canada border
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection says it prohibits profiling based on race, religion

(CNN) -- A Muslim civil liberties group filed a lawsuit Friday against the federal government for allegedly violating the First Amendment rights of Michigan Muslims and violating a 1993 federal law that upholds the free practice of religion.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations said U.S. border agents and the FBI infringed upon those rights with invasive questionings at the U.S.-Canada border.

The group says Muslims have been detained, handcuffed and interrogated there without reason.

"They put me against the wall, and he handcuffed me and he went throughout my body," one of the plaintiffs, Ali Suleiman Ali, told CNN affiliate WDIV.

The group says the agencies violated the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which says the federal government cannot substantially burden a person's free exercise of religion.

Agents allegedly asked "How many times a day to you pray?" "Do you pray your morning prayer in the mosque?" and "Who else prays in your mosque?" according to CAIR.

"Invasive religious questioning of American citizens without evidence of criminal activity is not only an affront to the Constitution, but is also a waste of limited resources," CAIR-Michigan Executive Director Dawud Walid said.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection responded Friday, saying that it "strictly prohibits profiling on the basis of race or religion."

"In determining whether individuals are admissible into the United States, CBP utilizes specific facts and follows the Department of Justice's 'Guidance Regarding the Use of Race by Federal Law Enforcement Agencies.' "

The FBI declined to comment.

CNN's Carol Cratty contributed to this report.

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