Muslim mayor joins Lawsuit against U.S. government over alleged FBI watchlist bias

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A group of 12 American Muslims, including a mayor from New Jersey, have taken legal action against the U.S. Department of Justice to halt the use of a covert Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) watchlist they believe is causing them harm.

Their lawsuit was filed in Massachusetts, with the plaintiffs arguing that their inclusion on the Terrorist Screening Dataset has resulted in unequal treatment in America, effectively imposing what they call a “life sentence of suspicion.”

Being on this list entails a range of challenges, including public embarrassment, constant surveillance, travel difficulties, job rejections, and a sense of being unwelcome in their own country.

What makes the situation particularly concerning is that over 98% of individuals on the watchlist are Muslim, according to the lawsuit. Even if someone is eventually removed from the list, the adverse consequences persist indefinitely.

Among those suing is Mohamed Khairullah, the Mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey. He was invited to a White House event but was abruptly barred from attending, underscoring the substantial impact of watchlist inclusion on an individual’s life.

The lawsuit names prominent figures as defendants, such as Attorney General Merrick Garland, FBI Director Christopher Wray, and others.

A lawyer from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) emphasized that many of those on the list were placed there due to vague criteria, disproportionately targeting Muslims. In fact, more than 98% of publicly disclosed names on the list in 2019 were Muslim, implying religious bias in the government’s actions.

The remaining 1%-2% of individuals on the list are associated with criminal activities, such as involvement in terrorist acts. Therefore, the lawyer argued that grouping everyone together is unjust and reflects discrimination based on religion.

Shaheer Gul Khan is a final-year student of English Literature at Government College University (GCU) Lahore. Strives to create a challenging and engaging environment having editor skills in freelancing, a goal-oriented. He can be reached at Twitter @HafizShaheerGu1.


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