Saturday, June 09, 2012

Lawsuit Against USCIRF Claims Anti-Muslim Bias

On Thursday, a lawsuit was filed in federal district court in Washington, DC against the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom by a lawyer and expert on South Asian affairs, Safiya Ghori-Ahmad, who alleges that a permanent job offer with the Commission that she accepted was withdrawn because of anti-Muslim bias of two of the USCIRF commissioners. The complaint (full text) in Ghori-Ahmad v. United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, (D DC, filed 6/7/2012), recounts that plaintiff, formerly employed by the Muslim Public Affairs Council, was hired as an analyst by USCIRF’s executive director after staff interviews and review of her qualifications. However, after she left her prior job and before she began with USCIRF, the Commission, particularly at the urging of then-Commissioner Nina Shea, reneged on its hiring decision and instead offered her only a temporary 90-day position. According to the complaint:
Internal USCIRF email and discussions make clear that Ms. Ghori-Ahmad’s national origin and religion drove USCIRF’s ultimate decision to rescind its job offer. For example, Commissioner Shea, a particularly influential voice with long tenure on the Commission, wrote that hiring a Muslim like Ms. Ghori-Ahmad to analyze religious freedom in Pakistan would be like “hiring an IRA activist to research the UK twenty years ago.”
USCIRF allegedly retaliated further against Ghori-Ahmad when she filed a complaint about her treatment with the EEOC. The lawsuit claims that USCIRF's discrimination against plaintiff violates the Congressional Accountablity Act which was made applicable to USCIRF by the legislation passed last year that reauthorized the Commission.The Washington Post, reporting on the lawsuit, adds:
The allegations in the suit are the most explicit in a years-long series of allegations that commission leaders are biased against Muslims, specifically people associated with groups critical of U.S. foreign policy and who work for groups that fight anti-Muslim discrimination.
[Thanks to all who sent me leads on this.]