CAIR Advice for Smooth
Clara, CA: The Council on American Islamic Relations, San
Francisco Bay Area Chapter (CAIR-SFBA) encourages Bay Area
Hajj pilgrims to review their rights and responsibilities
as airlines passengers, in order to facilitate efficient
traveling and to avoid unnecessary delays.
On Monday, December 11, CAIR-SFBA met with US Customs and
Border Protection (CBP), as a proactive effort to educate
law enforcement officials on the Hajj experience, and to
discuss safety tips for passengers. CAIR-SFBA has also reached
out to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Transportation
Security Administration (TSA), and the Federal Bureau of
Investigation (FBI), to ensure safe and hassle-free traveling
for Hajj pilgrims. Please be sure to report any positive
or negative experiences to CAIR-SFBA.
CALL TO ACTION
Following the CBP meeting, CAIR-SFBA is advising those going
on pilgrimage to note the following tips:
1. Know your rights: Please remember that there are certain
procedures that law enforcement officials conduct simply
as protocol. However, in case of any undue hassling or discrimination,
know your rights as an airline passenger.
In its "Your Rights and Responsibilities as an American
Muslim" pocket guide, CAIR states: "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:
a. Ask for the names and ID numbers of all persons involved
in the incident. Be sure to write this information down
b. Ask to speak to a supervisor.
c. Ask if you have been singled out because of your name,
looks, dress, race, ethnicity, faith, or national origin.
d. Ask witnesses to give you their names and contact information.
e. 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.
f. Contact CAIR to file a report. If you are leaving the
country, leave a detailed message, with the information
above at 408-986-9874."
2. Know before you go: Read the CBP “Know Before You
Go” brochure to be aware of the rules of bringing
back items from your trip. When returning from Hajj:
a. Check in any ZamZam water that you bring back with you.
Airlines will NOT allow you to carry liquids in large quantities
as hand luggage.
b. If you are bringing back dates, make sure they are processed
and sufficiently dry.
c. When packing, ensure that your shoes are cleansed of
any soil to avoid having your luggage opened at the airport.
CBP has strict rules for allowing any soil, chemicals, etc.
into the country.
d. If you are bringing back items (gold, etc.) worth more
than $800 (per person) declare them using the CBP Declaration
Form, made available by airline staff when landing.
e. Fingerprinting and photographing may be conducted for
those traveling on a non-immigrant visa (i.e. non-US citizens
or non-US residents).
"Given the increase in the number of complaints CAIR
has received alleging airport profiling of American Muslims,
we believe it is important that all those taking part in
this year's Hajj be aware of their legal and civil rights,"
said CAIR Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper.
Hajj is one of the "five pillars" of the Islamic
faith. (The other pillars include a declaration of faith,
daily prayers, offering regular charity, and fasting during
the month of Ramadan.) Pilgrimage is a once-in-a-lifetime
obligation for those who have the physical and financial
ability to undertake the journey.
When the main portion of the pilgrimage is completed, Muslims
worldwide gather for communal prayers on the first day of
Eid ul-Adha (eed-al-ODD-ha), the second of the two major
CAIR, America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group,
has 32 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its
mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage
dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims,
and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.