Washington, DC — Last Friday, Muslim Advocates filed a brief asking a federal court to make it clear that it is illegal for the government to retaliate against someone for refusing to become an informant on their own faith community. The amicus brief was filed in support of Muhammad Tanvir, who was threatened by the FBI and placed on the No-Fly List after he chose not to become an informant on his own Muslim community. Mr. Tanvir is currently suing to win monetary damages from the government, as the Supreme Court unanimously ruled was his right in the Tanvir v. Tanzin decision in 2020.
The amicus brief was drafted by Muslim Advocates, with support from Jenner & Block, and is also supported by Asian Law Caucus, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Desis Rising Up & Moving, Project South, American Muslim Bar Association, Muslim Bar Association of Chicago & the Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee. Tanvir v. Tanzin and the subsequent appeals were filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights, the CUNY CLEAR initiative and Debevoise & Plimpton LLP.
“As far back as the 1950s and through to today, Muslims have been watchlisted, coerced to spy on members of their communities and denied fundamental constitutional rights just because of their faith,” Muslim Advocates Senior Staff Attorney Reem Subei said. “Our brief tells the story of the U.S. government’s oppressive targeting and othering of Muslims, and asks the court to recognize that this behavior violates the rule of law and the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act. We look forward to a decision which holds that it is a violation of the rule of law for government agents to retaliate against someone for declining to become an informant on their own community.”
“There are few injuries as severe and as inconsistent with the Nation’s constitutional fabric as having one’s religious obligations overborne by discriminatory government conduct,” stated the amicus brief. “This case is significant not just for American Muslim communities, whose safety from unjustifiable retaliation is at stake; it is also significant to members of all faiths, as our Nation’s commitment to liberty and justice for all crumbles with each discriminatory carve out.”
Muslim Advocates is a national civil rights organization that uses litigation, policy engagement and communications strategies to promote justice and equity while protecting the diverse spectrum of Muslim communities from anti-Muslim discrimination in all of its forms.