Know Your Rights

FREE DOWNLOAD: CAIR-Chicago Know Your Rights Pocket Booklet



As an airline passenger, you are entitled to courteous, respectful and non-stigmatizing treatment by airline and security personnel. You have the right to complain about treatment that you believe is discriminatory.

If you believe you have been treated in a discriminatory manner, immediately:

1) Ask to speak to a supervisor.

2) Ask if you have been singled out because of your looks, dress, race, ethnicity, faith, or national origin.

3) Ask for the names and ID numbers of all persons involved in the incident.

4) Ask witnesses to give you their names and contact information.

5) Write down a statement of facts immediately after the incident. Be sure to include the flight number, the flight date, and the name of the airline.

6) Contact CAIR to file a report. If you are leaving the country, leave a detailed message, with the information above, at 202-488-8787. You may also file on-line at


1) Remain calm

2) Inform the offending party that you believe his/her actions are discriminatory.

3) Report the discriminatory action in writing to company management.

4) Begin documenting the discrimination by saving memos, keeping a detailed journal, noting the presence of witnesses, and making written complaints (keep copies). Create a “paper trail.”

5) Contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and local county or state civil rights agencies to educate yourself about legal options.

6) Contact an attorney to discuss your case.

7) DO NOT sign any documents or resign without an attorney’s advice.

8) Ask to be transferred to another department or job site.

9) Ask for mediation.

10) Contact CAIR to file a report.

11) Consider looking for a new job.


Your right to be politically active and to hold different beliefs/views is protected by the Constitution. If you are visited by the FBI, remember:

1) You do not have to talk to the FBI. You have no obligation to talk to the FBI, even if you are not a citizen. Never meet with them or answer any questions without an attorney present. Refusing to answer questions cannot be held against you. It does not imply that you have something to hide.

2) You do not have to permit them to enter your home or office. FBI agents must possess a search warrant in order to enter your house. If they say they have a warrant, demand to see it before allowing them to enter. Even if they have a warrant, you are under no obligation to answer questions.

3) Never lie or provide false information to the FBI. It is better to refuse to answer any questions. Lying to an FBI agent is a crime. Contact CAIR for advice.


Federal law makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate against an employee on the basis of religion, race, or national origin. Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act guarantees your right for:

1) Reasonable religious accommodation. The failure of an employer to reasonably accommodate your religious practices constitutes discrimination. “Religious practices” includes wearing a beard, hijab, prayer on the job, and going to Jumah prayer.

2) Fairness in hiring, firing, and promotions. Your employer is prohibited from considering religion when making decisions affecting your employment status.

3) A non-hostile work environment. Your employer must ensure that you are not subjected to anti-Muslim insults, harassment or unwelcome, excessive proselytizing.

4) Complain about discrimination without fear of retaliation. Federal law guarantees your right to report an act of alleged discrimination. It is illegal for your employer to retaliate against you for your complaint.


1) Install perimeter floodlights and video cameras outside the mosque.

2) Install fire and burglar alarm systems.

3) Replace hollow core doors with more secure solid wood or sheet metal faced doors.

4) Trim shrubs and vines to reduce areas of concealment for criminals.

5) Join a neighborhood watch program.

6) Meet with neighbors and local law enforcement officials to discuss security.

7) Educate mosque workers or volunteers about dealing with phone threats and bomb searches. Have written instructions for when threats occur. (Available from CAIR.)

8) Call authorities about any suspicious package or letter received by mail. DO NOT touch the object.

9) Document descriptions of suspicious people or vehicles noticed near the mosque.

10) Make duplicates of all important papers, computer disks and records in the mosque, and store them elsewhere.

11) Remove potential fire hazards, such as trash and debris, from mosque grounds.


If you believe you have been the victim of a hate crime, you should:

1) Report the crime to your local police station immediately. Ask that the incident be treated as a hate crime. Follow up with investigators. Inform CAIR even if you believe it is a “small” incident.

2) Document the incident. Write down exactly what was said and/or done by the offender. Save evidence. Take photographs.

3) Act quickly. Each incident must be dealt with when it happens, not when convenient.

4) Decide on the appropriate action to be taken. Consider issuing a statement from community leaders, holding a news conference, organizing a protest, meeting with officials, or starting a letter writing campaign.

5) Mobilize community support. Contact CAIR and a local mosque or organization.

6) Stay on top of the situation.

7) Announce results. When the incident is resolved, make an announcement to the same people and organizations originally contacted.


1) You have the right to inform others about your religion. You have the right to pass out literature or speak to others about Islam, as long as it is not done in a disruptive manner.

2) You have the right to organize student-led prayer on campus, as long as the service is not disruptive.

3) You may have the right to attend Friday prayer. The Supreme Court has upheld the right of states to allow students “release time” to attend religious classes or services.

4) You have the right to be excused from school for religious holidays. You should inform the school that you will be absent.

5) You have the right to be excused from class discussions or activities that you find religiously objectionable. Check with CAIR.

6) You have the right to form an extracurricular Muslim student group.

7) You have the right to wear religious clothing. You also have the right to wear clothing with a religious message, as long as other clothes with messages are allowed.


Most letters to the editor do not get published. To increase your chances of publication, be sure to follow the following guidelines:

1) Keep your letter to no more than 150-250 words.

2) React quickly to news of the day, negative coverage or views you support. If possible, have the letter in the hands of an editor on the same day.

3) Be authoritative. Speak on behalf of an organization, even if you have to create that organization to work on that issue.

4) Pick one main thought and resist the temptation to include other points.

5) Address the letter to “The Letters Editor.”

6) Be passionate or even controversial, but avoid rhetoric and defamation.

7) State the purpose of the letter in 25 words or less.

8) Give background information on the issue or misconception. Cite impartial sources.

9) Offer a solution.


1) Introduce yourself to your neighbors

2) Join your child’s school’s Parent Teacher Association (PTA).

3) Donate well-written books or audio cassettes about Islam to the local public and school libraries.

4) Register and vote.

5) Join, start, or donate to a local CAIR chapter.

6) Attend school board meetings and city council meetings. Check newspaper calendars.

7) Put together a Ramadan or Hajj display at a local school or library.

8) Submit an opinion piece to your newspaper about an issue of local importance.

9) Invite local officials and the public to a mosque open house. (Contact CAIR for tips).

10) Host public events such as blood drives and health fairs at your mosque.

11) Get yourself and your mosque involved in local issues.

12) Schedule local and national officials to speak about community issues at your mosque. (congressperson, mayor, city council members, etc.)

If you have other questions, please email